My Growing Kids

I had a moment of clarity where life hit me in the gut. No, it wasn’t anything like a life-threatening illness or heartbreaking loss (i.e., an Ex doing you wrong…grrrrr…but I digress); it was a simple act. The act seemed so innocent in its nature – almost like a flower deciding the time was right to bloom; or a butterfly determined to leave its cocoon. No, none of these things. But, yet, what happened to me was powerful beyond words and an eye-opener to boot. I was floored when the situation presented itself as well as at a loss for words. I couldn’t believe this shit was happening to me – but folks had warned me so. And here I was, face to face with the biggest decision in my life – minus the vasectomy I decided against. The decision you ask? Well, to let me kids walk alone to the corner food store. By themselves.

Albeit – there were about 30 other kids going with them…at least that’s what I told myself. And the corner store is approximately two city blocks away, in a neighborhood in which the President himself entrust the local law enforcement to serve and protect (minus the whole “Rodney King experience” we seem to be dealing with in this current year). It was, in fact, a safe passage for my kids to take – they knew the route and simply had to follow the directions provided by me.

But I was tentative and afraid.

I wasn’t afraid that they might be snatched up from deranged lunatic or that they might encounter Bozo the Clown asking them to feel the candy deep inside his insidious pocket, but that my kids were growing up. I felt sad as a tear slowly drifted down my cheek with this realization. Of course I didn’t let them see me cry because I never do but I felt it nonetheless.

I had explained to them in the past about being careful out there in this crazy world and to know that society will not be kind to them because of their race and gender and age; but I had a sense that they were smart enough not to be taken.

I felt confident in their awareness of their environment and that they were able to discern right from wrong. For this I was comfortable in my decision to let them experience this new found independence for themselves. I remember my own satisfying experience of going to the store and dropping “Abraham Lincolns” for a bag of goodies. However, it was eating me up because they were no longer my little angels. They were growing up.

daniels_kids

Those of us with kids clearly understand they do not stay the same size as the playful Raggedy Ann or Andy dolls we hoped they would. We get that they will experience their own taste in clothing, music, food, and other worldly desires. They’ll zoom through life collecting these various experiences and create the being they were intended to be. And we get to sit back and let the magic happen, regardless of where we are in our experience of “letting go.”

My kids were safe. They didn’t run into a creep or a thug or even a homeless guy running game, but just simply an innocent walk to the corner store in which they spent a total of $5.56 on items I’d rather not disclose. (FYI – I was unaware cotton candy can now be bought in a cellophane bag.)

So here I was, accepting life’s facts as she threw me what was inevitable for me – my youngsters growing up. It wasn’t an easy acceptance of the truth but I had very little choice in the matter. Instead, I let go and let God (a favorite of us Christian folk) watch over them and protect them through the valley of the shadows of death and so forth.

And they returned. Unharmed. Excited. And empowered.

All because they were able to buy an Orange soda and a bag Twizzlers on their own – forging their own path for their lives and realizing the power of independence.

Go well and with love good peeps.

If You Ain’t First…Yer Last

Apparently there is a debate brewing regarding participation trophies for kids in sports. I think Rick Bobby of Talladega Nights said it best – “If you ain’t first, yer last.” Or maybe what The Donald has said about losers and winners – “I like people who weren’t captured.” (The Donald on Losers) Or as a former boss of mine declared about people’s work product – “It’s not great it’s just work.”

So if these shining examples surround us how can we feel bad about a parent revoking Participation Trophies from his sons because he feels they should “earn” them?

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Hog wash.

If my child has participated in a sport (or any other activity) I believe they should be recognized for participating. If a child goes to the practice, learns the drills, participates in the plays, and does what is asked of him then why shouldn’t he be rewarded? Just because he may not be the most talented or the winner he should not be shunned for fear of leading him down the path of laziness.

Opponents of the practice to award kids participation trophies might say: a) it teaches kids they don’t have to work for anything in life; b) you have to earn everything in life (hello – this is false!!); c) it doesn’t teach kids about winning and losing; or d) kids will not know life isn’t fair. (Do We All Deserve A Gold? Setting kids up to fail. – Post published by Vivian Diller Ph.D. on Nov 19, 2011 in Face It)

However, I would argue these ideas with the following:

  • Is it wrong to reward a child for trying or is a pat on the back sufficient?
  • Is it so bad to encourage a child to participate in anything by recognizing their efforts to do so?
  • Shouldn’t the parents take the responsibility to tell their child that they just aren’t good enough?
  • And why does a parent have to crush a child’s ego by expressing the child doesn’t have the talent to participate in a given sport?
  • Don’t we reward participation for junior varsity and varsity sports?
  • Will kids really not understand that life isn’t fair? Hello…I’m a Black man living in America…I think it becomes obvious at some point that life is far from fair.
  • Finally, if you look at the very successful people of today they didn’t reach their level of success because of their talent but because of their success to nurture relationships.

These are the reasons why rewarding some kid a medal for participating will not hurt them as they come up in the world. In a way it will hopefully motivate them to become better. Heck, it’s better than the child sitting home all day playing games. And let’s be honest, the ole pat-on-the-back just ain’t cutting it like it used to – then again, in our jobs we would all be so lucky to get that pat-on-the-back.

Go well and with love good peeps.

I’m In Love with the Coco!

Imagine hearing your young kids, gleefully, energetically and with gusto singing a Hip-Hop song with the title above. Imagine them laughing innocently to the parody YouTube videos showing people drinking cocoa, snorting cocoa, or doing other things with cocoa. Now think about how catchy the tune might be and how it might stick in your mind. Shortly you might find yourself humming and singing, “I’m in love wit da coco!” while you are be-bopping your head like Jay-Z. [Coco Video]

And then you realize what the song is about. And the light-bulb goes on.

Now you think, “Uh-oh.”

This happened to me. However, before I impulsively jumped on the hypocrite bandwagon declaring that all Hip-Hop and Rap music is from the Devil and that our young people are doomed, I caught myself thinking back to my youth recalling songs where drugs were either explicitly or implicitly cited. And lo and behold a number of songs came flooding back into my memory without me having to Google the subject.

Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll…and Hip-Hop…and Country…etc.

So here is my simple list of songs that came to mind for me:

  • Cocaine – Eric Clapton
  • Got to Get You Into My Life – The Beatles
  • Molly – Tyga
  • Flying High Again – Ozzy Ozbourne
  • Pusherman – Curtis Mayfield
  • White Lines – Grand Master Flash
  • White Rabbit – Jefferson Airplane
  • Purple Haze – Jimmy Hendrix

And a whole bunch from the Red Hot Chili Peppers!

I am not only familiar with these songs but I know most of them by heart. Some of the songs are older and others more current. There are a variety of genres and artists. And, of course, they are not all Hip-Hop. Drug songs.

Thus, it’s easy to look down on certain classes of people based on our own experiences, but this is one area where we don’t have to look any further than the mirror before we judge. And what is even more interesting is how musicians have been singing about drugs for a long time – even before Rock & Roll. We all have some accountability in this as we have bought the records, tapes (8 track or cassette), CDs, etc.

More importantly, as we get older and have the tendency to frown upon such songs (admit it, you do) and artist we find ourselves recalling the very same type of song from our own childhoods. The conundrum we find ourselves is perplexing – what example are we showing our youth?

In my case, fortunately my kids are still too young to understand what the song is about – although I’m sure someone will blurt it out at some point. I can either get ahead of this potential situation or I can be ready to address it after the fact. At some point I have to address it.

But right now I just enjoy the innocence in which they operate and I wish I could freeze the moment. Heaven knows what I will be dealing with after they realize the nature of the song. Sigh.

Now go have yourself a hot-cocoa and enjoy the music.

Go well and with love good peeps.

Feeling Comfortably Numb

Minute by minute, then the minutes turn to hours and hours to days. And before you know it, eventually the days turn to weeks to months and finally years. The crushing feelings of hopelessness, rage, and loneliness become less and less. We have all heard the term “time heals all wounds” and it is true to a point. It isn’t that the wound is completely healed it is more like you learn to live with it. Living with the wound, not the pain is akin to having an appendage that has no use. Thus, it is numb, devoid of power or substance, and not something that can be removed. I have become comfortably numb living apart from my kids.

Many people, correction, women might not understand this analogy. The argument I’ve heard is that the woman carried the child in her womb for nine months creating some unseen bond. As a man we are not privy to this unseen bond because we do not give birth. Yet, we do have a spiritual connection to our offspring. And when our children are taken away through divorce the pain is real. Thus we have to find a way to overcome this painful existence. One of the ways is to remove the emotion from our inventory and create a hollow shell of where that emotion used to exist. Slowly we turn off the spigot that feeds the emotion leaving us with a numbing sensation.

I’ve heard other men say you learn to live with it and I have experienced it. It becomes a way of life. It doesn’t mean you love your children any less it only means your access to your kids has been limited and therefore the wound remains. However, the body begins to cut off any feeling you have in this perceived appendage and eventually, like the effects of nova Caine the feelings just go away.

Maybe men are designed to be this way by the Creator. Throughout history fatherless homes have been around due to wars and other duties previously dominated by men. It is probably in our DNA – this one strand that allows us to disconnect the emotion for the greater good of the family. This new era in which we live is exposing this DNA flaw for the entire world to see. No one talked about this much in the past, how a man might miss his kids daily. Men could only express this emotion during tough times on the battlefield or during his dying days. Only then does the child really begin to understand the impact his daddy has on his or her life. This revelation is harder and harder to manage in today’s society because of divorce and dysfunction.

Therefore, I make it a concerted effort to focus on my offspring the moments we are together. I make sure they know the love I possess for them and my desire to see them flourish. I continue to build a bond best I know how because I know I will become numb as they walk out the door when our time comes to a close. And because of this I am becoming comfortably numb.

Celebrating Life’s Wonderful Moments

Today I celebrate my son’s birthday! I feel so honored to have him as my son and I am happy that God put my kids in my life. Through all of the turmoil I have experienced it is moments like these where I sit back and just give thanks. Whether you know who or what you are giving thanks to, just give it, it won’t hurt.

Then just celebrate those things around us that give us joy. Life can be beautiful.

Cheerios in My Pockets

As I came into work this morning I grabbed a bag I hadn’t used in some time. When I got into the office and pulled the small bag from my computer bag much to my surprise I found something…

A few remnants of cheerios.

These small morsels have been there for a while. I’m certain they were there when my babies were…literally…babies. It made me smile and I realized how I missed them at that precious age. I’m sure many women can relate. I wonder if men relate to this as well – I know I feel sentimental when I am reminded of my kids during the early years. The time passes by so fast. Enjoy it for sure.

To our kiddos! Love them to pieces.

Daddy Dan

Did I Get Married for the Wrong Reasons?

When I was a boy discovering my sexual appetite all I did every day was to stare at every female booty on this planet. You know, hormones kicked in. And it wasn’t so much I wanted to have sex with any booty that jiggled but I had a deeper, more complex plan. I was beginning to look for the perfect woman, companion, and confidant that I could not only share my inner most secrets but someone who would not judge me for my weirdness – someone who, frankly…could make me some beautiful babies to carry on my legacy.

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Yup, that was it. A nicely hourglass-shaped, physically appealing specimen that would do the work of housing, ahem, I mean, carrying my unborn children; a woman that would become the incubator for my chicks. A conduit in which my babies would come out and look at me and say, “Hey Daddy Dan, I’m here to carry on your good name!” Thus, it wasn’t sex alone that drove me to marriage but the desire to carry on a legacy through offspring. Every man has this desire to see his “shorty” carry on the family name even if from afar. Little did I know my incubator would want something more? I was bamboozled.

I wasn’t really bamboozled. I was in love. Yes, some might consider my view of my potential wife shallow and short-sighted. But I did want children. Women have a tendency to choose a mate, usually a father, based on some physical attributes. It has been proven when women search they desire a man that is six-foot two, built like Adonis, and can beat somebody down when provoked. This is not merely for the woman’s own viewing pleasure and sexual appetite, but it suggests when they have kids the kids will have the traits of the father. The man would be strong yet sensitive, sensual and trusting, yet tough and resilient. Truth be told, men view future baby-mama’s in somewhat similar fashion. Does she have nice child-bearing hips? Is she built proportionately? Or does she have some other physical attribute important to the man that ultimately will determine an important element about that child?

As we venture through this subconscious path of desires, reality usually steps in and brings us back down to Earth. We are generally happy about our babies once they’re born. We care less and less as our babies mature and we pray they are healthy and capable. And we also find some deeper connection and love for the woman that produced the baby for us and she is no longer just the vessel that contained this life form until its birth.  We men do understand the importance of the role.

Thus, it isn’t all about marrying the type of woman that is going to provide you with kids that you subconsciously desire but also a woman in whom can be a good parent. Men desire someone that is a partner and can assist in the duties of child rearing. You want someone that is capable of raising and nurturing a small human being to be the best person they can be.

Concluding, I didn’t marry for the wrong reason, but it was one of many reasons; although, it is a big reason and should not go unnoticed. However, through maturity, that reason – how good of a child can my future spouse and mother of my kids provide me – is less and less important. More important is the love I have for my kids even in the midst of a marriage gone bad. For they are still the legacy afforded to me from a Higher calling. And I am pleased.