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Monthly Archives: August 2013

What’s up with Miley Presley?

Alright. I get it. Miley stirred the pot. We love to judge so you can’t really be surprised at the amount of attention the story has gotten. I myself was a bit conflicted. The creative free spirit in me was all, “you go do your thing there little miss” while the dad in me was more “what the hell is she thinkin’?” And yes, as a father of two young daughters, I was more like, whoa there partner. Let’s see what’s on Sprout shall we.
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So lets talk context. My kids love music and it’s kind of an important thing in our household. I make a point of exposing the kids to everything from Robert Johnson to Chopin, Doris Day to Yes, Cole Porter to The 88 and everything in between. I also try to listen to the music they like and do my best to keep up with what’s influencing them. Sometimes that means turning the station and other times just keeping my mouth shut and rolling my eyes.

If you’re going to teach kids about music; I think it’s important to teach them about everything that comes with it. The stories of the artists. Their histories. The good, the bad and the ugly. And that includes Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Milli Vanilli, Amy Winehouse, Woodstock, Jim Morrison, Lady Gaga, Elton John, Miley Cyrus etc. Talk about it and then hear what they think about it. I think you’ll be surprised at some of the comments.

It also includes teaching them about all of the shocking things that have happened in music throughout the decades. How Elvis the pelvis was only shot from the waist up on Ed Sullivan because his happy hips were too dangerous for network television and would destroy the innocence of anyone under eighteen watching the show that night. Or how every Catholic in the world did the sign of the cross and twenty seven Hail Mary’s when Madonna first performed “Like a Virgin.” And of course pick a story about Jim Morrison’s on stage antics.1984VMA_madonna_10

The point is, this really doesn’t feel like news to me. A young, outspoken, uninhibited singer put themselves out
there and offended a bunch of people. Listen that film has been remade more times than Batman. And it will be made again. And again. And again. Because we’re not talking about investment bankers singing at the MTV Video Music Awards. We’re talking about artists. As someone who makes a living in the creative realm, I can tell you, we’re not necessarily normal a good part of the time and often leave people shaking their head in dismay, disagreement and disbelief at the way we communicate and see the world.

Here’s the good news. If you’re spending time with your kids. If you’re providing them with a moral foundation that’s reasonable and respectable. If you’re talking about issues with them and listening to their point of view and respecting it. Chances are they’re not going to go to school tomorrow twerking against the members of the wrestling team just because Miley and Robin bumped goodies on an awards show last night. I made tea for the
3924228914_a59ee0790c girls this evening and asked one of my daughters if anyone was talking about Miley at school today. BOY did I get an earful. And frankly, they didn’t appear too impressed. And after about ninety seconds we talked about volleyball practice, what color she wants to paint her room and this cool pair of pants she found on-line. 

So let’s be grown ups (or apparently tweens); give it ninety seconds and move on. However you feel about the performance, I really don’t believe it’s going to end the free world as we know it. It’ll probably sell some downloads, improve a number of Web sites hit totals and get a Republican or two elected in the south. But beyond that it’ll more likely just end up as one of a long line of similar moments in the history of music that decades from now will be the ground work for a good “when I was a kid” story your own children will be telling.

What’s more important is that you’re there to talk about these things with your kids and guide them. They’re going to be exposed to much worse in life. And many times you’re not going to be there to point them in the right direction. So use this as an opportunity to lay some quality ground work on the ole’ fundamentals foundation. It’s a lesson just sitting there waiting to be taught. So twerk it for all it’s worth.

 

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What A Trip!

I wish I could take today, frame it and hang it on the wall. Not as a reminder of a birthday celebration or a softball victory. Nothing like that. I wish I could hang it up as a reminder of a day I wish I could have handled better. It wasn’t a horrible day. Many positive moments, victories and things to be thankful for, not the least ofHURDLES2-articleLarge which are my kids. But it was a stressful day. A monday in every sense of the word. And subsequently, I was a grump and edgy. If I had to give myself a grade, I would give myself a C-.

I had prided myself on keeping a positive attitude and for not letting things get me down or make me edgy. But today pushed my buttons for some reason. And like a lot of parents, I tripped over a couple of hurdles along the way. Perhaps a lack of sleep, a lack of faith, one straw too many. Who knows. The point is I found myself apologizing to the kids at the end of the day for not bringing my “A” game.

“We all have our days dad,” proclaimed my eldest. And so it is that my daughter helped me realized that I’d reached a point where days like today truly do stand out. Because they are not the norm. They are not the constant. They represent an old me and stand as a reminder of how far I’ve come.

So I wish I could frame it and hang it on the wall. For no other reason than to look at it tomorrow and recognize that the day was just that; a day. Not a week, not a month, but a single day filled with a number of seemingly harmless hurdles that ultimately I managed to make it over. With a bruise or two perhaps, but I made it.

 

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DAADDDDD!!! HELLLOOOO! Is anybody listening?

As a single parent a lot falls on your shoulders. Trying to keep up with everything on your plate requires a lot of focus and attention. Maintaining the home, clients, car, bank accounts, bills; all of it often pulls you in 10,000 directions. So much so that at times it’s easy to forget something more important than anything I just listed; a picture your child just drew.

What picture you ask? Is it the one you never saw because your son came to your desk several times whilekid-ignored-parent-cell-phone you were busy on the computer only to hear you say, “in a minute buddy.” Maybe you eventually forgot and he gave up.

Maybe it wasn’t a picture. Maybe it was a video they found on YouTube that they wanted to share with you. Maybe it was a shirt they wanted to wear to school that they couldn’t find. Perhaps it was a question about having a friend over or if you knew where the Goldfish were. Regardless, I guarantee you, at some point today, you likely missed an opportunity to let your kid know that they’re the most important thing in your world. Worse case, you let them know that everything else was more important than them.

If there are more than one rug rats, it gets even harder. I’m guessing there’s one that gets shafted out of what they want time and time again because along with the list above, they’re also competing with an older or younger brother or sister who have baseball practice, piano lessons; science club; something that they get artworks-000039583127-5li45j-originaldragged to that demands yet more of everyone’s time and is presented as more important than anything they want to do.

It’s worth a gut check once in a while to stop and become aware of how you’ve approached the little minds in your house lately. Are you blowing them off to meet a deadline or take a client call? Is the extra meeting more important than ensuring dinner together around the table?

Look, obviously from time to time we’re going to have to make a work or home issue a priority. No question. Sometimes we’re going to have to be at three places at once and everyone’s going to have to go with the flow. Absolutely. The point is that it’s easy to get into that mode and harder to get out of it and focus on the kids. And don’t think for a minute that they don’t see it. But chances are they really don’t understand it. Have they been a pill of late? Not listening? Picking fights with their brother or sister? In all likelihood they don’t even know why they’re grumpy or lashing out in anger over a missing ponytail holder or who got the last cookie. But I’d be pissed off too if I felt nobody considered me more important than checking e-mail.

As has often been written in this blog, it’s about awareness. About stopping every once in a while to make sure we’re listening and reacting properly to our kids. A new cheer they want to show you may not seem like a big deal, but it is to them. And not even as big a deal as the fact that they WANT to share it with you. That’s huge! Don’t ignore the value of that moment. Stop for two minutes and give them your undivided attention.

Now if you’ll excuse me; I need to go practice what I’m preaching. 🙂

Peace!

 

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Time Out Already!

If you’re like a lot of divorced dads, you work triple time to maintain your world. Especially if your kids are a regular part of it and you’re now the soul bread winner in what used to be a two income household. It can be a
lot to keep up with and the pace can wear down even the most determined individual.timeout

In the midst of what can become complete and udder chaos when you’re learning to juggle life as a single parent; every once in a while I think it’s important to just blow everything off and spend a day (or two) focused 130% on your kid(s).

While they understand that your life is crazy busy, they still need to feel like they’re one of, if not THE most important thing in your life. The last thing they need is to feel “in the way” or “just another thing you have to deal with.” And that happens quite quickly if you’re not careful, especially when you’re short with them while trying to meet a deadline or two.

The other powerful aspect of taking time to recharge is that it reminds you yourself of what’s really important. It’s so easy to get caught up in the minutia of a job or particular concern you have that sometimes you just need to take a step back to regain a proper perspective. When you’re focused too intently on one aspect of your life it can easily appear much larger than it actually is. Taking a step back reminds you that, in most cases it’s just one small part of the big picture.
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You will find a sudden sense of liberation from releasing yourself of the responsibilities you’ve pushed yourself to maintain for so long. That one moment of recognizing you’re not late and won’t have to worry about traffic, deadlines, meetings etc. is like releasing the steam from a pressure cooker that’s about to explode.

Giving yourself a time out every once in a while, especially when you’re feeling an excessive amount of stress and anxiety, reminds you that the world won’t end if you’re not in the game for a play or two. If need be, delegate. Let someone else field the call. It’s also an opportunity to reassure the kids that when push comes to shove, your relationship with them is really all that matters. And by the way, NEVER feel guilty for making your kid the priority once in a while.

And even when you’re not taking that day off to be with them, remind them as often as you can how much you love it when they’re with you. Even if they blow it off, believe me they hear it and it means more than you’ll ever know.

 

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Love the Mud

So, I drive a Jeep. This particular Jeep is my fourth. My first Jeep was a CJ 5 I’d purchased from my brother-in-law when I was in high school. Loved that thing. It had over 200,000 miles on it. The dashboard instrument panel routinely went black from time to time during a rain storm. Sometimes the windshield wipers didn’t work. The heater failed on a regular basis. And a good splash from underneath that hit the distributer cap would have me on the side of the road calling my dad to come get me. And yet, it was my 154_0807_07_z_jeeping_mounds_off_road_park_sinking_jeep_1988_jeep_yjdream car. I always wondered what it was that drew me to Jeeps. For the most part I was anything but rugged as a kid. I was athletic, but small and not very “macho.”

Then it dawned on me as I was living one of those days where life was doing its best to throw everything at me but the kitchen sink. As I sat down at the end of the craziness and popped open a cold Yuengling, I realized that what I’d come to enjoy about my life was what I loved about owning a Jeep.

Like anyone, for the most part I enjoy the smooth ride of a well paved highway. But there are times when I crave to pull away from the masses, go off road and feel the bumps and bangs of an unbeaten path. That feeling of driving head on into a huge puddle not really knowing just how deep it is. Of going full force into a huge area of mud and feeling the engine pull its way through it. I’ve also been known from time to time to drive head on into a storm with the top down getting caught in a downpour. And I love it.

There was a time when I hated when life got bumpy. Anything that disrupted the smooth ride of life’s highway 131_0711_01_z+jeep_cherokee+mudand forced me off road really threw me. It caused frustration and anxiety. But somehow living through the divorce and having to learn to juggle three kids, two dogs, two or three jobs, a home; all of it, has helped me embrace the rough terrain and recognize the power that comes from making it through the muck. Of revving the engine a little from time to time to get through those long patches of mud that hold you back. Of treating the bumps and bangs like you would a ride at the carnival. Equating it to going off road helped me recognize that it can be fun if you let it.

Let’s face it, a smooth ride can be nice, but it can also get monotonous after a while. Sometimes it’s good to shake things up a bit and go off road. It’s good for the kids too. We work so hard to get them into routines. To maintain nap schedules, eating schedules, being on time for everything, rushing here, rushing there. We do everything in our power to give them a strong foundation that helps them stay on track. Which is obviously254873603_XC9PN-L important don’t get me wrong. But it’s so easy to fall into the trap of maintaining that foundation at all costs that we often fail to prepare them for the reality that life doesn’t always go according to the structure we’ve worked so hard to create. Teaching them to roll with the punches and take what life throws at them in stride, and even enjoy it, is as important a lesson as any.

Does it suck when life forces you off road when you’re not really ready? Abso-freakin-lutely. And it’s easy to get shaken when you’re forced to go a direction you weren’t planning to. That’s when you figure out how to throw it into four-wheel-drive on the fly. Meet the challenge head on. Let the kids see you take on the challenges life throws at you the way you would any washed out, mud laden, dirt road. Teach them that it can be fun to get muddy once in a while. Especially when you’re wearing your sunday best. Life has a way of getting messy and that’s OK. In fact it can help us learn to take life a little less seriously and enjoy the muck as much as the sun.

So the next time you find yourself driving into an unexpected swamp … smile, strap in, shift down and give it some gas.

 

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