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Posts Tagged ‘father’

So, my son and I have completed our first leg towards Colorado. On Facebook I posted my idea of how to have conversations with my son on the 16-hour drive. The plan was simple: He would write down seven subjects and I would write down seven subjects and we would select a subject every hour to discuss for ten minutes. I modified the plan a little by adding a rule that if the card selected is a subject that you wrote, than you had to introduce the topic for the first minute.

This might sound like a weird idea to you, but my son is 13 years old and like many 13-year-olds, he does not talk much. Honestly, I don’t talk much either, but when you are in the car for 16 hours with another person, not talking at all gets old fast. When he was seven, I did not mind his silence so much, but now that he is older, I have higher expectations.

Believe it or not, it went great. The first subject selected: What do you want to be best at? This was my subject. I told him of my aspirations to be a great teacher and how hard I have worked towards being a great professor. My son wants to be best at football and plans to be in the NFL one day. We talked about what he will have to do to make his dream come true. The conversation went well.

The second card selected: Who is the best superhero and why? Also my subject. How do you NOT select Superman? He can fly, he is super strong, and only one thing can hurt him, kryptonite. What are the chances you can find kryptonite? So, easy choice right? Well, according to my son, Batman is the greatest, because he would outsmart Superman and if anyone can get kryptonite, Batman can get it. My only problem with my son’s argument is that you know what can defeat Batman? A rifle. How can you be the greatest superhero and be killed by a gun? We had to agree to disagree.

Rich, Gadgets and Smart

Rich, Gadgets and Smart

Flight, Strength, Almost Invincible and best alter ego disguise EVER!

Flight, Strength, Almost Invincible and best alter ego disguise EVER!

The last card selected on our first leg to Colorado: Food and Drinks. This was Brett’s subject. We talked about favorite foods, drinks and how junk food and certain sodas can be addictions. In case you are wondering, my son called them addictions and not me. We had a very deep conversation on food and trying to make smart decisions, and the difficulty of not eating too much of certain foods. The conversation was very cool.

Now, you may be wondering why we only discussed three subjects in an eight-hour drive. It turns out, I don’t need a lot of conversation in eight hours. We had our discussions, and it was nice and made the drive much more pleasant. I got to learn a little more about my son, and when we stopped for dinner, he actually talked more than I did.

We have another day of driving and a stack of cards with various subjects. Today was a nice start as all the subjects were relatively low-key. I have a couple of serious subjects in the stack and we will see how that goes, but for now, it was a surprisingly great idea. I highly recommend it.
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I learned something today. You know who advertising works really well on? 13-year-olds. I learned today that my son wants new headphones for his birthday. He wants Dr. Dre Headphones. While writing this blog, I looked them up. They range from $200 – $400. Are you freakin’ kidding me?!? Why does he want them? He says they look cool. I may be getting old, but they look like regular headphones to me. I’m just sayin’ …

$400. Really??? Come on man!

$400. Really??? Come on man!

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So, my father died yesterday.  People die everyday and as I have mentioned before, it is not death, but the dying that is difficult.  But my dad’s death was planned, and that has got to be a special kind of hell.  There are so many ways to die:  People die of cancer, heart attacks car accident, embolism, aneurism, freak acts of nature or the best way of dying of all time, while sleeping.  But what do you do when you must make a decision about death?

My father was a retired minister.  As a matter of fact, I flew from Wisconsin to California to attend his retirement party.  To give you a sense of who my father was, his retirement party was a roast.  To this day, and I am sure my sister would agree, we did not roast him nearly enough.  We all tended on the kind side rather than the roast side, but I guess that is OK.  I think people had a hard time roasting a minster.  Oh well, people may not have understood that my father was not that kind of minster.  In my opinion, he was the best kind.  You can be a christian and still be fun and not take things so seriously.

Speaking of Christianity; here is the worse story of yesterday.  Someone texted my sister to ask if my father was a christian.  Message to all you so-called-christians:  The time of death is not the time to try to ‘save’ someone’s soul.  When Christ visited Lazarus, who was dead, you know what he did not do?  He did not check to see if he was worthy of his time.  He did not ask stupid questions.  He did not make sure that the family believed everything that he believed.  He did not confirm that Lazarus was a good man.  When he was finally with the grieving family, do you know what he did?  Jesus wept.  If you wear a WWJD? (What Would Jesus Do?) bracelet or have a bumper sticker saying the same thing, I implore you, I beg you, read the Bible so that you know what Jesus would actually do, because based on your actions, you clearly don’t know.  But I digress.

I called my father on Father’s Day, but he didn’t answer.  We had been playing phone tag for about two weeks.  I was calling for two reasons:  One, to ask about the restaurant that he and his wife had newly opened and two, to get him to send golf clubs that he had promised to send me.  On Father’s Day, he was flown to a hospital in Palm Springs because of kidney failure.  He has been in the hospital since Father’s Day, and as you probably know already, he never left.  Unfortunately, this was the beginning of the worse roller coaster ride ever.  Kidney failure is bad (50% survival rate), but not the worse, several trips to a dialysis center and you can live without kidneys.  However, his lungs became problematic and they had to intubate him, hooking him up to a breathing machine.  His lungs did not fail, they were just having problems.  Figure out the problem, get him off the machine.  The problem was blood clots (pulmonary embolism survival rate 30%).  As the nurse said, most people die from the amount of clots seen in his lungs.  OK, my dad is clearly tough, place a blood filter to prevent blood clots from reaching the heart and lungs, and get him on blood thinners (anti-coagulants), problem solved.  He began to bleed.  Quick medical lesson:  The clotting function of your blood is very important.  If you get a paper cut, the act of clotting stops the bleeding.  If your blood does not clot, or if you are on anti-coagulants, you get a paper cut and it may bleed forever.  My father has emergency surgery to find the bleeding and stop it.  The doctor tells my brother and mom he has a 30% chance of surviving the surgery.  He survives the surgery.  As stated before, my father was tough.  However, he must be taken off the anti-coagulants.  It was on that day that I lost hope.  You see, the down side to having knowledge is sometimes you get to figure out the ending before others.  It can ruin movies, which is why I must check my brain at the door to enjoy most films.  In my mind, the blood clots were the key to his survival.  If we got rid of the clots, maybe we could get him off that blasted machine and get that tube out of his throat, which he hated.  But the doctor did not want to give up (for good or bad).  My father also had an infection.  The doctor hoped if he could get rid of the infection, things would improve.  No problem, antibiotics.  They did not work.  Oh yeah, I forgot, my father could not maintain his blood pressure.  He was on pressors.  Pressors (norepinephrine) elevate the blood pressure.  Without the pressors, my dad’s blood pressure would plummet.  On the morning of July 9, the doctor, the wife, and the son (me) called it.  There was nothing more that could be done and we began the process of calling the family to see my father for the last time, because the next day he would be taken off of machines and medications.

I describe this to you because everything my father had was fixable.  Each ailment had a solution.  This was not cancer.  So the question was for a long time, at least in my mind, “How long are we going to do this?”  What is the acceptable amount of time to throw medicine and machines at a medical problem?  It was horrible.  Then, finally, when the decision was made, we had to plan his death.  How do you plan someone’s death?  How do you plan your father’s death?  Your husband’s death?  For right or wrong, I made it my responsibility to make sure that my father’s death was going to go as planned.  Nice and easy.

It’s weird to wake up on the day you know your dad’s going to die.  It would probably be worse if you were aware of your own death date, which I am sure has happened, but I woke up with the burden of responsibility of someone else’s death and unbeknownst to me, it made me extremely angry.  If you interacted with me, you would not have known how angry I was, and I did not know that I was angry.  But I soon left no doubt that I was angry.

To enter the ICU, you need a badge.  It’s a paper badge that sticks to your shirt.  You need a new one everyday.  You gave the security guard at the main lobby of the hospital your badge from the previous day and they printed you a new one.  I forgot mine, so I handed the security guard my driver’s license so he could print me a new one.  Also at the front desk was a hospital volunteer, a candy striper.  She was 75 years old if she was a day.  She proceeded to tell me how the correct procedure is to hand in your previous badge in order to get your new one.  I proceeded to tear her a new one and in no uncertain terms informed her that today was my father’s death day.  Now, my sister was with me.  My sister is a loud, in-your-face black woman.  She calls herself the truth whisperer.  Her blog is The Truth Whisperer.  She silently gave me my space.  I was angry.  Next, we visited my father.  In order to enter the actual ICU either a security guard or a candy striper must use their key card to open the doors.  So, there is a desk at the entrance of the ICU.  My sister and I were with my father briefly.  We just wanted to sit with him a while.  As we walked out, one of the volunteers said in an attempt at humor, “Just a short visit huh?  You weren’t in there very long.”  My sister, The Truth Whisperer, walked by silently to our private family room (reserved for such occasions).  I, on the other hand, proceeded to rip into the group of volunteers at the desk.  I informed them that today was my father’s death day and they needed to be more appropriate with visitors to the IC freakin’ U.  Did I mention I was angry?  I will say this though, all the volunteers were quiet for the rest of the day.

All the family had arrived and it was time.  I addressed the crowd of family and friends.  I explained how the process would take place.  We prayed.  We walked into the room.  We sang a hymn and then I got the nurse.  I won’t go into the details of this part, but this is when I got angry and stayed angry for a while.  It involved the nurse leaving out a drug that I thought was necessary.  It was a drug that I should have made sure was there in the first place.  After heated discussions with several nurses, culminating in a phone call to my father’s doctor, the desired drug was finally administered.  People stayed with my dad, and I chose to leave, because I did not want to watch my father die and I was surprised so many people did.  I also left because I was angry.  I was angry at the situation, angry at the nurses, but mostly angry at myself because I failed in making sure that things went exactly as planned on my father’s death day (By the way, I realize this is the worse expression ever, and I can’t stop using it).  It was like I was an obsessive wedding planner worrying about every little detail and freaking out when any little thing went wrong.  I went outside in the 118 degree weather to ‘cool’ off.  I have no idea why people live in Palm Springs during the summer.  I finally went back to my father’s room to make sure that everyone was doing their job and that he was comfortable.  Literally, while talking to the nurses and making sure all was as it should be, he died.  I think I breathed for the first time.

Everyone handles death differently.  It’s hard, especially when it is someone you love.  I apparently get angry and tell everyone that it is Death Day.  No matter how you deal with it, it is important to understand that death is part of life.  Try to focus on the person’s life rather than their death.  My brothers and I are going golfing on Saturday.  I am certain that my father would have wanted that.  I am also certain that he would want me to play with his full set of clubs.  I can’t imagine that my readers have enjoyed these last few blogs, but I hope reading them has made you think about the importance of your own loved ones.  Hug your family.  Say “I love you” to your family and friends.  We are all here for a relatively short time, so cherish it.  Those issues and squabbles you are holding on to simply are not worth it.  And if you feel the need to judge or evangelize during times of death, just remember one thing: What Would Jesus Do?  Jesus wept and so do I.  Thank you for reading.

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My father, Ronald Woods, died Tuesday, July 10, 2012 at 5:00 pm.  He was 76.  I’m just sayin’ …

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So, I am on a journey half way across the country to see my father, who is gravely ill.  He is currently being kept alive by chemicals and machines and it is likely that my trip will not end well and it is very hard on me.  However, I am struck with thoughts that are going through my mind as I drive across this great land of ours.  More specifically, I am struck by the thoughts that are NOT going through my mind.  My dad is going to die and that is a sad fact.  Whether today, tomorrow, or by some miracle years from now, one fact remains:  He is going to die.  And I am surprised, no shocked at how confident I am of where he is going upon his death.  This is not a sermon, nor some sort of trick to convince my readers to believe in God and Heaven, but a confession of my true feelings.  It is not his end that my mind is focused on, but his whole story.  It is like a book or video game I wish would not end, because I feel like I am just getting into it.

In times of death, we obviously focus on death.  For many people, death drives their lives.  You may even know people who are religious and all they can talk about is what happens when we die.  It is kind of like Jurassic Park III.  I hated that movie.  However, when I really examine my movie watching experience; in retrospect, I was enjoying the movie until the end.  The ending was so bad, it is all I can remember from that movie.  We can be so focused on the end, it can ruin the beginning and middle.  If you want me or anyone else to believe in God, don’t talk about heaven or hell, just show me a story worth reading.  I think my father had a story worth reading.

My father used to smoke.  I must have been around 10 or 11 when  I asked him, “Why don’t you smoke anymore?”  He said he prayed about it and God took it away.  End of story.  After my parents divorced, he would pick me up on the weekends.  Sometimes he had to work on the weekends.  He was a bus driver.  He still picked me up, and I would ride with him on the bus all day.  It was during these trips that I learned to give up my seats for the elderly and those with physical needs.  I saw him talk to everyone, often bringing up God in conversation in the same matter of fact tone as the story of him giving up smoking.

My father also use to annoy the hell out of me.  As soon I learned to drive I made sure that I never visited him without my car just in case I needed to make a quick getaway.  He was the king of unasked for sermons, advice, lectures, stories, teachings, “you know what your problem is”isms.  It got old.  My father could also say some pretty racist things, at least in my opinion.  At some point, I learned stories of how people, specifically white people would treat him growing up.  Now I am amazed that he talked to white people at all.

I loved family vacations.  Family vacations taught me to be aware of my surroundings.  My father would ask me what a sign would say as we drove.  He would do this with little time, so I had to read fast to complete his challenge.  Eventually, I learned that if I read and memorized every sign that we passed, I would always be able to get the sign questions correct.  It is amazing how many stories like that are running through my head:  Driving across country; turning a one-story house to a two-story house;  trips to “see a man about a dog or horse”, a phrase that I still do not understand; showing up unannounced at my house; lecture after lecture about every subject under the sun; mini-sermons; and more mini-sermons.  It has been a neat story, a story I wish would not end, at least not right now.

I will see my father tomorrow.  The end of his story is likely to be sad, but unlike Jurassic Park III, it is not the end that I will remember most, but the beginning.  It is not the end of my father that has made me who I am today, but all the other parts of the story.  You see, I am not on this journey alone.  My son is with me now.  I am sure I annoy my son at times too, but when I think of my story, I think of my dad’s story.  His story has led to my story.  It is not the end.  Think of it more as a sequel.  Thanks Ron.

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On this trip I have learned that my son is really into Sponge Bob.  As we stopped at a rest stop to have lunch, he was making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.   He asked me, “Where does jelly come from?”  I told him I am not exactly sure, but I am sure it involves mashing up fruit and adding sugar.  He was visibly shocked by my answer.  So, I asked him where did he think it came from?  He said, “From squeezing jellies from the ocean.”  I couldn’t help but laugh and luckily he laughed too.  I told him he was watching too much Sponge Bob.  I’m just sayin’ …

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So, my father is in the hospital.  He is in critical condition.  He is stable, but still critical.  I was not sure if I would blog about this subject.  It is not a subject that is very entertaining, so if you don’t want to continue reading, I understand.  I am not exactly sure why I am writing about it, but I feel like I need to write about it.  It is kind of … cathartic.

I am going to label this as my first real crisis.  I have led a rather … I don’t know if sheltered is the correct word, but I can say that there have not been too many problems in my life that I felt I couldn’t fix.  Under most circumstances, given enough time, I think I can fix anything.  That is amazingly egotistical on my part, but I think if you knew me, you would probably agree.  Probably on both parts, the egotistical and the fix anything.  I figure if you are going to have an ego, at least back it up, right?

I called my father on Father’s Day, but he did not answer.  A little while later, his wife sent me a text to indicate that the paramedics had taken him to the hospital.  I had no major reaction to the text.  After all, it was just a text.  My father has no medical history that I am aware of, as matter of fact, I don’t even think he has ever been sick, at least to my knowledge.  His RN even stated yesterday that he has no medical history to explain his current state.  But that’s my Dad, or Ron as I call him (I call my biological father by his first name, to do otherwise feels weird.  I have no explanation for you at this moment, but it is probably not for the reason that you think).

Ron is not a complainer.  My father could get into a car accident, have his leg chopped off, and hop to work.  “Hey Ron, I think there is something wrong with your leg.”  He’d say, “It’s alright, let me finish my work and I’ll drive to the hospital later.”  Someone would say, “But your leg is chopped off.”  He’d reply, “It’s just the left one, I can still drive.”  That’s my father, no exaggeration.  This is the same man who called converting a one-story house into a two-story house a side project.  That’s how I spent my summers in junior high, building a house.  No, I am not exaggerating.  Just in case you are wondering, I left out the “It’s just a flesh wound” quote out on purpose.  It’s over used, and if you said it while reading this, you are a nerd.  Sorry, had to be said.

It’s weird seeing my father in this condition.  It is very surreal.  When I walked into his room, seeing all those hanging bags, tubes, and frail body, it was like I became a little boy.  Why is he like that?  What am I seeing?  Someone needs to fix this.  I just wanted to leave the room.  I didn’t leave the room, but I couldn’t stop thinking, it was just a text.  How did we go from a text to this?  It was as if I watching myself, but as a little boy, scared and confused.  It was a very uncomfortable situation, but then I did what I know how to do; it is time to fix this.  I wanted to know about every detail that led us to this place.  I talked with my step-mother.  I talked to the nurse.  I examined every bag that was hanging on a hook.  I looked at his blinking screen and was thankful that my brain understood the acronyms and curvy lines.  I asked every question I could think of, and any word that was spoken that I did not completely understand, I filed it away in my brain to study later.  I spent half the night reading about every medical condition that could be related.  In order to cope, I became House.

Obviously, I did not have any “A-Ha” moments last night.  Mostly a lack of sleep and trying not to think about my father’s current situation.  It would be cool if I could talk to the doctors, and say, based on my analysis of the situation, this is what’s going on.  Give him 15 cc’s of blah-blah-blah and watch the magic happen.  That would be awesome, but unfortunately, this is not a TV show.  I finally did fall asleep last night.  I awoke with no revelations.  I cried.  That seemed the right thing to do, and then decided to write this blog.

If you believe in God, I would appreciate your prayers.  If you don’t believe, than I appreciate your support.  If anyone can beat this thing, it is Ron.  I will probably continue my reading about his medical condition.  I will continue to ask questions.  I will continue to try to “fix” this situation, because that is who I am, but one thing is for sure, I am no House.

If you are still here, thanks for reading.  I’m just sayin’ …

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Do NOT let your daughter watch this movie. Just say no!

So, I know what you are thinking, “How cute.  She’s a little mermaid.”  WRONG!  Not that mermaid.  Disney’s The Little Mermaid was possibly one of the most popular movies with little girls.  It was the classic story of a beautiful girl giving up everything to be with the man she loves and everything becomes perfect as a result.  Worst story for little women, EVER!   Tangled was also a popular movie.  A girl trapped in a tower so that an evil women can remain young and beautiful, (because this is most important to women), but she is saved by a scoundrel of a man and life is better.  This in spite of the worthlessness of the man.  You see, you can be a thief and a no-good, but you’re a man, so you still make a woman’s life better.  Don’t get me started.

Did you know that in the original Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen, she dies?  In the original story by Andersen, mermaids differ from humans in two key aspects:  mermaids live up to 300 years and mermaids have no soul.  When mermaids die, they turn into sea-foam.  When the Little Mermaid requests that the Witch make her human, she is asking for more than just a boyfriend and to be anatomically correct, she wants love and a soul.  So, the Witch makes her human in exchange for her beautiful voice.  The Little Mermaid must make the prince fall in love with her or she will die.  The movie is pretty true to the story up until the Little Mermaid saves the prince from drowning, but then things change dramatically.  In the story, the prince is set to marry another princess.  Like the movie, he does not know that the Little Mermaid is the one that saved his life, because she can ‘t talk.  When he meets the princess, he is convinced that it is she that saved his life, and he falls in love with her immediately.  They are to be wed and the Little Mermaid is going to die.  Here is the cool part.  In the original story, the Little Mermaid’s sisters make a deal with the Witch.  They sell her their hair in exchange for the Little Mermaid’s life.  The Witch agrees, but the Little Mermaid must take the knife, that she provides to the sisters, and kill the prince.  The witch says that as the prince’s blood flows on her legs, they will combine to a mermaid tail again.  The sisters give the knife to the Little Mermaid.  But the Little Mermaid sees how happy the prince is with his new wife-to-be and can’t bare to kill him.  She turns to foam as the sunrises.  Isn’t Andersen’s story better?  It is way more realistic.  The book is always better.

You see, even Hans Christian Andersen knew that men do not solve all of women’s problems.  As matter of fact, they often make things worse.  The perpetuation of the idea that men solve everything for women needs to be squashed, but I have no idea how to make that happen.  This is why the Princess and the Frog did not do well with American audiences.  First of all, she was black, and second of all, she was independent.  She did not need a man.  As a matter of act, the man needed her.  From a Disney financial perspective, a bust.  Crazy.  It was an awesome movie.  As far as my daughter is concern, it will be the only female dominated Disney movie that exists.

A Disney female character I can support for my daughter.

So, why is my daughter a mermaid?  She is beautiful, manipulative, and will destroy me.

Mami Wata pictures almost always have her wearing a watch and with a snake.

A brief mermaid lesson:  Many cultures have a long history of water spirits, or mermaids.  One of the most popular water spirit from Africa is Mami Wata.  Mami Wata is often seen as a mermaid.  She is believed capable of healing the sick and bringing good luck.  However, she also has a temper, and will drown those that disobey her.  Her name actually comes from the English words “Mommy Water,” and is portrayed wearing foreign clothing and jewelry as her followers believe she is from another world.  In European lore, mermaids would lure sailors with their song and beauty.  Ships would crash into rocks as a result.  In Homer’s Odyssey, Ulysses ties himself to the mast of the ship in order to avoid the song of the mermaids.  The story of mermaids has been around for at least 3000 years and most agree, they are beautiful and dangerous.

That’s my Violet.  She is beautiful and dangerous.  She lures me in with her cuteness and makes me obey her every wish.  This morning, like many mornings, we ate breakfast together.  I fixed her breakfast (often blueberry waffles with peanut butter) and I make myself my usual, granola with berries and various other fruits.  Today it was blueberries and bananas.  When she is finished with her food, she wants to eat mine.  No, you don’t understand, she wants me to give her some of my food.  She wants me to share my food.  Me… Share…  MY food.

If you ask my wife what was our first issue as a couple, she will respond quickly and easily.  On one of our dates, she grabbed some food off of my plate.  I was shocked.  She will tell you in clear detail, as if it was yesterday, that I proceeded to explain to her that taking food off my plate was in no uncertain terms, unacceptable.  I do not share food.  The relationship almost died right then and there.  And here I am this morning, and multiple previous mornings, sharing food with my daughter.  There is no other explanation, she is a mermaid.

I don't stand a chance.

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Last night, I was watching a cable TV series called, Spartacus: Blood and Sand.  This is not an endorsement for the show, but let me just tell you that the title of the series is quite accurate.  It’s a TV show about gladiators and the  apparently crazy times surrounding the time of gladiator fighting in the arena.  I don’t know why I watched it, but I did.  It has Lucy Lawless in it.  Remember her?  Lawless used to play Xena in Xena the Warrior Princess.  That show was awesome.  Anyhoo, there was a scene in which one of the gladiators was ordered to disrobe and the guy was standing naked in front of some important woman.  It was full frontal nudity.  Remember when a penis flashed at the end of Fight Club, and that was kind of shocking?  When did it become OK for the penis to be hangin’ on cable TV?  I don’t care if you are a man or woman, homo- or heterosexual.  If a man is standing before you naked, you are sneaking a peek at his junk.  The thing is, I couldn’t NOT look at it.  What’s up with that?  Does that make me gay?  I’m just sayin …

Another female character I approve of for my daughter.

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So, I think being a father is hard.  I have been thinking a lot lately about what it takes to be a good father.   With my two youngest, I am SuperDad.  I just show up and they give me a smile as if I am the greatest thing since sliced bread.  My oldest son has higher requirements of greatness.  It makes me wonder what it takes to be a SuperDad, but more importantly, what does it take just to be a dad.  For example, is there a recipe for being a good father?  I would imagine it is similar to cake.

There are a couple of essential ingredients that are required to make a cake, and then the rest of the ingredients will just determine how good or bad the cake tastes.  Every cake needs, flour, sugar, butter and eggs. You don’t even need water to make a cake.  As a matter of fact, you don’t even need the flour, but unless you have a gluten allergy, no one should eat a flourlesscake.  It’s just wrong.  Bottom line, if you have these simple ingredients, a cake is what you will eat.

Many ingredients make a good cake

So here is my Essential Dad recipe:
1.  BE THERE:  The most important ingredient to being a dad is just showing up.  It is sad the number of dads that are not around for their kids.  I do not understand this.  I am part of my kids and they are part of me.  If I were to leave them, it would be like leaving my arm, or my leg.  A lot of people think all you need is sperm to be a dad.  This could not be farther from the truth.  Donating sperm is the easy part.  It’s like sticking your key into a car ignition, turning on the car, and saying, “Look at me!  I can drive.”  No you can’t.  So, a shout out to my dad, who in spite of divorce and not always living under the same roof as me or my brothers and sisters, he has always been there for support.  My oldest brother and sister and I do not share the same biological father, but my dad treated them as if they were his own.  Was he the perfect dad?  Of course not, but he had an abundance of this essential ingredient, he was and always will BE THERE.

2.  GOT YOUR BACK:  In my opinion, fathers should be the definition of “I got your back”.  There should be no greater safety than in the presence of your dad.  Just last Saturday I went on a 3-hour canoe trip and the boys came with me.  It was Isaac’s first time in a canoe.  It might have been his first time in a boat period.  We went on this trip with colleagues from work, and two people in particular, Bruce and Linda were an awesome help and support.  You see, Brett Jr. got in the boat first was going to sit at the front, and Isaac sat in the middle.  However, to Isaac, as we were about to push from shore, the boat rocked way too much for his taste, and he felt strongly that he was going to fall in the water.  With every sway of the boat his cried out, tears streaming down his fear-stricken face.  I thought for certain that we were going to have to go back to shore and forget about this trip down the river.  Bruce and Linda (in kayaks) straddled the boat to steady it, and they helped Isaac walk to the back of the boat to sit in between my legs.  It was better, but he was still afraid.  I could feel his whole body shiver as I started to row the boat forward.  He held tightly to my legs for the first 15 minutes.  I just said over and over again, “You are safe with me.  I WILL protect you.”  He would ask me, “Is the boat going to tip over Dad?”  “Not today” I said, “Not today.”  About an hour into the trip, Isaac found his courage and moved to the middle of the boat, and even helped row.  He was very proud of his rowing accomplishments, and so was I.  “Dad is going to keep me safe.” He said.  “You got that right buddy, you got that right.” I told him.  We survived the three-hour trip down the river and had a great time.  Upon putting Isaac to bed that night, he said, “I had a great time with you Dad.”  I said, “So did I buddy.”  It was a great day.

Man of many quotes.

3.  TEACH:  I sometimes struggle with this ingredient, and wondered if it was essential, but this may be the most important job of being a father.  Otherwise, as a father, what is my purpose?  So, I take teaching very seriously.  Unfortunately, as my oldest son gets older, I am discovering that I am becoming less intelligent.  As Mark Twain said, “When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to  have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at  how much the old man had learned in seven years.”

Although Brett Jr is a very compliant child, I am beginning to notice more and more that

Money or humor that enabled him to marry up?

he does not worship the ground that I walk on.  Luckily for me, I still have Isaac and Violet to remind me of how great I am.  I must cherish these years, for one day I am sure that Violet will bring a boy home one day that I will hate.  Is it too late for me to buy a shotgun?  Maybe I can convince her that dating is evil until age 30.  When I look at my daughter, I think about one of my favorite Chris Rock quotes, “Keep my baby off the pole!  I mean they don’t grade fathers but if your daughter is a stripper you fucked up.”

Well, that is my recipe for being a father.  Of course there is more, but I hope fathers every well include the basic ingredients.  Of course there is always icing, sprinkles, and decorations, like bike rides, canoe trips, camping, talks about life, golf lessons, playing catch, shooting baskets, wrestling, fishing, etc. etc. etc.

So many thanks to my dad for taking me fishing, teaching me how to use a hammer, providing me a foundation for my faith, and etc. etc. etc.  Essentially, the icing on the cake with lots of sprinkles.  Happy Father’s Day.

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It would simply be impossible for Superman to become a father unless he discovered a female Kryptonian on Earth or super heroine.  An Earth woman would not survive the process.  The problem?  One word: Orgasm.  Superman’s orgasm would kill Lois Lane.  I’m just sayin…

Marriage, maybe. Kids, no way.

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So, originally I was planning on posting on the hypocrisy of people wanting to modify the 14th amendment.  It is as hypocritical an idea I have ever heard and as far as I am concerned it is yet another veiled act of racism.  Although I wrote that post (coming soon), I was distracted by an idea I had about an experience I had at the gym involving very naked and very old men (also coming soon).  Unfortunately, I had an incident today that I feel compelled to talk about in this post.

As some of you may be aware, my son is taking football for the first time.  The coaches tell me he is doing great.  They have been extremely supportive and I have had great conversations with them and their insights to how they think they will use him in the game.  He is slated to play defensive line.

In the beginning, I don’t think he liked it because the first week was all conditioning, but whenever we talked about how he would hit people in the future, his eyes would light up and it was clear he was excited to play football.

Now don’t get me wrong, my son is awesome, but his interactions with the world and other people are not the same as other 10-year-olds.  It is for this reason that I worry about him constantly.  I worry that he will have difficulties making friends, understanding his teachers to be successful in school, and now being able to learn a game he has never played before with several coaches giving multiple instructions.  He is a big kid, and like most people who are especially big, tall, or strong, certain expectations/assumptions are made upon them.  Although he is large, he is also the sweetest, nicest, and most unassuming kid you will ever meet.  He is a pleasure to be around, and probably not a single aggressive bone in his body.  The funny thing is, I was the same way at his age, and I believe I am trying to fix MY “flaw” in him.  I stated in a previous post (Parenting: Raising Children in a Bubble) that “nothing will make you more angry than when your child does or experiences something that is a direct reflection of your own flaws.”  You see, my son did nothing wrong, yet I saw in him something that I wish I would’ve done when I was his age.  It was as if I could fix my flaws through him.

You may have kids and if you do, I’ll ask you this: What is your flaw that you try to fix in your kid(s)?  Maybe you think that if only your son/daughter would apply their God-given talents they would be more successful than you ever were.  Or maybe you wish your child wasn’t so lazy, because you know how lazy you were at their age.  Maybe your child gets too emotional, not emotional enough, no initiative, not prepared for the future, or dating the wrong guy or girl.  But I will ask you to seriously think about it.  Is the thing that annoys you the most, also your flaw?

If you don’t have kids, my guess is that the parent you have the most struggles with are most like you.  If you don’t believe me or you think that it isn’t true, just ask someone else.  For example, my father and I are very alike.  He has an annoying way of saying things to you that are not exactly kind.  They are often true, but it is in the tone that is truly irritating.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my father, and he is significantly more tolerable than he used to be (I think age does that), but he can get under my skin like no one on the planet.  And today, the tone I used with my son after his football practice was from page one of my father’s handbook.  It was like I was acting just like my father, something I promised I would not do, but it was like I was hovering over my body and it was channeling my dad’s tone.

I think we all struggle with our parent’s “mistakes”.  I have placed the word in quotes because I am no longer convinced they were mistakes, but consequences of being human.  My friend, Doug posted a comment (Don’t Have Kids … Please) that I believe states it best:  “But as Don Luis Miguel said in his book, “The Four Agreements,” we hear these things, make an agreement with it, and then later on spread this same negativity. Hopefully today for that mom, and in the future for that child, they begin to break that cycle by making new agreements. 1. Be impeccable with your word. 2. Don’t take things personally. 3. Don’t make assumptions. 4. Always do your best. I have had to work very hard at not doing some of the same things to my kids that my parents did to me. At the same time, I had to let go of resentments about those things and realize that my parents did what they were taught and did the best they could with what they knew.”

I don’t resent my parents.  I think they did a bang up job, but it does not mean that there aren’t cycles I would like to break.  At the end of my little tirade at my son today, I apologized.  He did not deserve my tone.  I told him how great I think he is and how his dad unfortunately gets carried away sometimes.  It was not my intention to make him feel bad.  At dinner I told him that I did not need to be at practice, and he could ask me when he felt he needed my help.  Before he went to bed he said he wanted me at practice, and I was very relieved.

I know I am not the best father in the world, but I hope I am the type of person that can learn from his mistakes and continually strive to be a better person.  I don’t know if I broke the cycle as my friend Doug discusses above, but I do know that I apologized to my son for a mistake that I made, and I am pretty sure that is different.  Maybe the cycle has been broken after all.

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My father is not perfect, but he has been supportive to all his kids and you will not find a more stable, supportive, give the shirt off his back, did the best he could father on the planet.  Not funny, but true.  I’m just sayin …

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