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Posts Tagged ‘independence’

So, in approximately four hours, if all goes well, I will be infertile.  You might think that I am nervous, but I am not.  I am looking forward to never reproducing again.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids, I just wish I didn’t have so many of them.  It’s a subtle difference.  I love them, but they can drive me crazy.  There are three kids in the house, and I think it’s too much.  I think about my sister who has three kids and how she raised them by herself.  It is a wonder that she is still standing right now.  I have a friend with five kids.  You read that correctly, FIVE!  She seems happy too.  Go figure.  My sister-in-law has four kids and they all have allergies.  I am pretty sure I could take out their whole family with a peanut and a slice of bread.

I tell my students that it is a good thing that babies and kids are cute; otherwise their parents would have killed them a long time ago. 

At an early age my daughter was safe. So cute!

This may sound cruel, but is true.  If you are reading this and have kids, you know it to be true.  Kids are messy.  They do stupid things.  My son, Isaac has literally fallen down the steps head over heels three times.  He is so fast pace, he simply does not think before acting.  I am convinced he will have several broken bones before high school.  Kids are super needy.  They can’t feed themselves.  They don’t clean up after themselves and they are constantly asking for things.  Some of the young ones even poop and pee on themselves.  It is like having homeless people live in my house, except I am legally obligated to take care of them.  In four hours, I am done, and I figure I have about five more years before my daughter is independent.  Kids are independent around five or six, right?

Another fascinating aspect of my impending vasectomy is the reaction of my male friends.  It seems that every male of procreation age has at least thought about the procedure of a vasectomy.  It ranges from paralyzing fear to extreme misconceptions.  For example, I am confident that some people think my balls are going to be cut off.  Others think that the doctor is going to stick a big needle into my scrotum or worse, my penis.  Basically, the procedure is simple. 

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I actually described the procedure in detail, but decided most of you would not care about it as much as I do.  If you do care about the anatomy of the male reproductive system, but do not want to do a google search on ‘testicle’ or ‘penis’; trust me, you REALLY REALLY do not want to do a google search with those terms, just google image search ‘vas deferens’.  What you get will be safe.

So, wish me luck and safety.  The procedure is not the issue, it will be the recovery.  I hope I will not add to the horror stories that I have heard about from other members of the ‘firing blanks’ club.  Nonetheless, I couldn’t be happier about losing my only super power, the ability to create life.  Anybody can make babies, it is the raising them job part that is seriously underpaid.

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There is one thing I am nervous about, my 3-year-old son’s height.  He is the worse height for this procedure.  He likes to punch.  I may have to tie his arms behind his back.  I’m just sayin …

My best friend for the next couple of days.

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So, my son bought a fedora.  I don’t know where he got it from, or why he bought it, but when I picked him up from his mom’s house yesterday, he had it on.  Don’t get me wrong, he looks great, but is a fedora something that a 5th grader should wear?  Or more specifically, should he wear it to school?  I can honestly say that I want my children to grow up independent and secure in who they are and  I don’t want them to worry about what other people think or say.  They should be themselves and not let anyone dictate who or what they should be … in theory.

You see, in my mind, when he arrived to school wearing a fedora, kids were going to point at him and laugh.  They were going to tell him that he looked stupid wearing that hat, and then spend the next 20 minutes making him cry.  The scene finishes with him eating alone in the cafeteria working really hard to hold back tears.  Or there was the other version, the version where kids take his hat, rip it up and beat him up for being a pretentious little fedora-wearing panzy boy.  He arrives home with a bloody lip and runs to his room crying.  What I have just described to you is the real thoughts that ran through my head this morning as I contemplated keeping the fedora at home.  Instead, I simply asked him “You sure you want to wear that hat to school?”  He responded simply, “Yup.”  And that was that.  I said nothing else.  he got ready for school, which included his gym shoes, backpack, violin and fedora.  Him playing the violin, in my mind, did not help.  As he leaves the house, about to close the door, I say one thing, “You look great in that hat.”  He said, “Thanks” and walked to school.

He is wearing that hat. You go boy!

I didn’t know what was going to happen, but I knew one thing, my son was going to leave the house knowing that I thought he looked great in that fedora.  And he did look great in that fedora.  My goal for my kids remain the same.  I want them to be independent and not worry about what other people think.  But I added another goal to my parenting list today; I want my kids to know what I think.  I think my kids are awesome, and he looks good in a fedora.
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I wondered this morning, “what crazy thing would I do if I was filthy rich?”  When I say rich, I mean light your cigar with a burning $100 dollar bill rich.  Here is what I would do: I would purchase a barber style chair, I would make a special room with a HD television on the wall, and wall speakers connected to my voice activated i-pod that is connected to the internet and automatically downloads any song that I request.  Blu-ray with surround sound of course.  I would hire the most attractive woman I could find.  She would be paid $50,000 a year to wear high heel shoes and a nice low-cut black dress, and at least once a week, using tweezers, pull the white hairs from my beard one by one.  Happy ending would be optional.  I’m just sayin …

He is very good at the violin, and the fedora completes the ensemble.

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So, over the Thanksgiving holiday I had a conversation with my sister about the importance of college.  It is really an ongoing conversation regarding the importance of getting a degree over starting your own business.  For example, Bill Gates is often brought up as a successful person who never went to college.  The irony of using Gates as an example is that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation may give more money to help students, especially minority students, go to college than any other foundation on the planet.  He even has a blog to encourage students to finish college (http://www.gatesfoundation.org/foundationnotes/Pages/bill-gates-101011-improving-college-completion.aspx).  Nonetheless, our conversation has got me thinking what is the value of a college degree?

The focus of the conversation over the holiday was my nephew, my sister’s youngest who recently graduated from high school.  He has an interest in videography and is making plans on how to break into some sort of video business.  My sister owns her own business and has probably not worked for someone else in 30 years.  I am a professor, so it should be no surprise to my readers that I am pushing my nephew to attend college.  It is interesting, in many ways I feel as if we are fighting for my nephew’s soul.   Who will win?  The promise of financial freedom? Or the tried and true stability of the promise of an education?  Inspired by our conversations, I have decided to write this blog.  What is the value of college education?

Independence.  One of the biggest lessons I learned in college was how to live on my own.  With the safety net of home and parents limited (eight hours away in my case), I could not just run home every time I needed help or was struggling.  I was forced to figure out things on my own, and these lessons were invaluable to my development, both emotionally and spiritually.  I do not think I truly learn about MYSELF until experiencing college and being on my own.

Multi-tasking.  While in college one must study, work (I worked 20-30 hours per week), socialize, and juggle other important miscellaneous activities and still be successful.  This is a skill that I can’t stress enough to its importance.

Social Skills.  I have never met a more variety of people than I did attending college.  My experience was especially diverse at Berkeley, my alma mater.  To this day I remember having amazing conversations with my atheist friend, Connie.  We would get into knock-down arguments over God and religion and then after go for lunch or dinner.  It taught me how important it was to have friends that thought differently than me.  This is something I think most people are missing from their lives.  Trust me, it is important.  I do not want to be surrounded by people who think just like me.  It is not enriching, nor growth inspiring.

Exposure.  You don’t know what you don’t know.  One of the largest advantages to college is to be exposed to different subjects and ideas.  There is no other forum that a person can take classes and talk with others about economy, history, science all on the same day.  When I entered college I was planning on becoming a lawyer, but through various experiences at Cal, I learned that I loved animals and started the pathway that I am currently on.  Most students change their majors multiple times, but it is their opportunity to explore that I think is most valuable.

Higher Probability for Success.  The fact is that most people require a Bachelor’s degree at minimum to obtain a successful job.  Is it possible to be successful without a degree, of course, but the Gates stories are rare.  Even owning one’s own business is a risky adventure.  Most businesses fail in the first two years.  In 2008, 15.5 million people claimed to be self-employed and their median personal marginal federal tax rate was 10 percent, which is an income range of $0 – $8,025.  Only 4.1 % of the self-employed were in the marginal tax bracket of 33% or more (Taxable income of 164,550-357,700 for 2010).  The bottom line: being successful via less traditional means has a lower probability of success.

Finish What you Start.  This is my number one reason for going to college.  It teaches you to finish what you start.  The reality is that a Bachelor’s degree is not special.  It will not prepare you for a job any more than anything else, but what it will do is show a potential employer that you can finish what you start.  Think about how important this skill is.  Can you think of people in your life that don’t finish what they start?  Of course you can.  It might even be you, but this is a crucial skill.  The ability to overcome adversity to finish a task can not be overlooked or underestimated.  Having a degree says something about a person, and that’s a fact. 

And no, it doesn’t have to be a degree.  But we are impressed by people with accomplishments.  And being the best at Call of Duty doesn’t count.  So, get your degree, it is a wonderful accomplishment, but more important it will teach many things along the way.  Is it the only way, of course not, but if you find yourself not doing much these days, or wondering what to do next, it is not a bad way to go and you just might learn something.  Because a mind is a terrible thing to waste.

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No matter what it is that you do, I hope you love it.  Do what you love and things will be alright.  I chose Berkeley because it had the most beautiful brochure of all the college material I got.  It wasn’t till after I got accepted to I realize that it was a good school.  Probably not the most intelligent way to pick a school, but it worked out and speaks to my personality.  I’m just sayin …

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So, for some bizarre reason I have had several conversations in the last few days regarding opinions on how to raise children.  I got into one “argument” with a woman at church because I said I did not think that allowing my son to watch a movie with violence was going to turn him into a serial killer.  This is also a hot topic between Leah and I as she is very very anti-violence.  She would argue that she is not over the top, and perhaps she isn’t, but she and I are definitely at different ends of the spectrum.  Now, don’t get me wrong, my son is 10 years old and he does have restrictions.  For example, he is not allowed to watch  Batman: The Dark Knight, which is probably a good indicator movie for where I draw the line for him.  On the other hand, I have no problem with him watching Iron Man 1 or 2, any of the X-Men movies, although after watching X-Men 3 he said “I think that was a little too violent.”  Which means he is probably able to discern among levels of violence (more of an influence of Leah, than me).  And isn’t that the ultimate goal?  Is our goal as parents to shield our children from “evil” or teach them how to discern and make intelligent choices?  I do NOT want to raise our children in a bubble.

I know parents that do not allow guns of any kind/type in their house.  The kids make guns from sticks found in the yard.  I know parents that do not allow their kids to watch movies or TV with any kind of violence.  The kids see these movies at their friend’s house and can’t wait to see more, and the more violent the better.  I know parents that do not allow their kids to watch TV or movies (except parent selected) at all.  You should see these kids when they are someplace with a television.  They are mesmerized.  They literally look like someone gave them crack cocaine.  I am not saying that their should not be rules or boundaries, quite the contrary, but I do believe that the tighter the box, the wilder they will be when released from parental chains, like a chained animal released for the first time.  The most important question in my mind is how to raise a child that when confronted with bad, will make the right choice?

Practice.  Kids need choices.  I have no idea who you are as a parent, but if your children do not have choices, then when they are released on their own, they will have no idea what to choose when confronted with horrible options, or they will be so depended on your guidance that they will never leave the house.

Kids need to be allowed to make mistakes.  How else do we learn?  Think of your biggest lessons in your life.  I almost guarantee they are from your past mistakes.  This is a tough one for me, because I want him to NOT make the same mistakes I made.  Don’t we all want this?  But why?  If our past mistakes made us who we are today, if we learned valuable lessons from our own mistakes, why would we want to deny this for our children?  With choices comes mistakes, from mistakes come learning and from learning comes independence.

Kids need to be parented.  I have worked with youth for a long time now, and this is the biggest problem I see with kids today, absentee parents.  Absentee parenting occurs regardless whether the one parent or two parents are in the picture.  As a matter fact, I see it more common in homes in which both parents are working.  The nice thing about raising your kids in a bubble is it releases you from parenting.  If you are not around, the bubble is a requirement.  Of course, if you are not around, then the bubble walls are easy to break.  The bottom line, I think it is more important to talk to your kids about the things they see and experience in the world: Parenting.  Talking to my son about his experiences is an area I wish to improve the most in my own life.

Finally, I want to share a parenting issue that I have found to be amazingly true and annoying.  And even if you do not have children, but hope one day to have children, consider this a warning.  The issues that your children face, the issues that will bother you the most, and the issues that will make you the angriest and the most frustrated, are the issues you face yourself.  Nothing will make you more angry than when your child does or experiences something that is a direct reflection of your own flaws.  I hate this and I am actively working to improve this aspect of my parenting life.

So, strive to raise independent children.  You want them to be OK without you.  And remember, they are NOT you.  Let them make mistakes, and their mistakes are not always yours even though it may feel like it sometimes.  Besides, if they don’t may make mistakes, they won’t learn nuthin’.

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All babies are cute.  You look at any animal and you will find that babies are cute.  I teach my students this fact of nature.  It is important that babies are cute because they often do things that make you want to kill them, but you see their sweet smile and it steadies your hand.  And just like in the animal kingdom, by the time babies stop being cute, they are too big to kill.  I’m just sayin …

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