Party on man….

santa

Christmas time is here my darlings; time for good tidings and fellowship! Time to praise God, celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and reflect upon another year gone by! A reflection that includes ones own growth or demise along with those cherished most. Family and friends.

One problem. After a long year filled with many activities, surrounded by a multitude of generations, families, friends, strangers, covering from here in California to as far East as Iowa. I have been fortunate enough to make new friends, meet, watch and cheer new kids playing new sports and revile as children I’ve known from childhood into adulthood move on with their lives.  Being the ever astute observationist it has come to my attention a certain (middle) age group believes entitlement should be afforded regardless of the fact they are not law-abiding adults.  It is also becoming rather apparent after witnessing such behaviors, looking on FB, Instagram and such this entitlement issue is expanding at a rapid rate, further propagated by the lackadaisical attitudes of the very same law-abiding of age adults that are supposed to be prohibiting such behavior!

What behavior would I be referring? Drinking alcohol, chewing tobacco, smoking cigarettes.

To say I am shocked would be a lie.

Oh yes I hear the groans now for this has been the very same argument passed from one generation to the next. The same question tossed forth year after year. Is this generation really worse than the last? Isn’t this the very issue we dealt with ourselves as young adolescents? Come on, whats a drink  here or a drink there anyways? A dip never hurt anyone and jeez our parents smoked all the time! Not everyone gets cancer right? Seriously, as long as it’s happening in my home under my watch its ok!

Now before I ramble on in some parent/wet blanket/buzz kill tirade lets clear the air.

I had my first drink at 13 and was a pretty proficient drinker by 16. Let that sit for a minute.

There was never a time, I turned down beer, California coolers or wine. If it showed up on friday night, I drank it, partied hard, then drove, where ever and when ever I pleased. I was hell on wheels and there was no stopping me! My parents tired of the fight and I think at one point short of just yelling at me every time they saw me, they gave up. I never came home at curfew, I stayed out way too late, put myself in situations I should never have been in, and I survived.  During the school week it was not uncommon to place a few drops of Everclear in a can of Copenhagen and get royally stoned during class. I snuck (gulp hard here) Black Velvet during the day replacing it with water in hopes no one would know, then hid in my room for hours on end staring at the ceiling wondering why I hated my life.

I was lucky.

My parents DID NOT condone this behavior. My parents tried everything they knew to stop me, but it didn’t work and do you know why? Because there was always somebody elses parents who did condone drinking. Someone else’s Uncle or Aunt who believed the law was stupid and as long as the drinking was held inside their home it was ok. If that didn’t work there were students who looked like adults and could purchase alcohol at 7-11, and there were students who worked at stores where alcohol was available, thus bringing it home for Friday and Saturday night parties on the hill, in a field or out at the sloughs. No Student drinking task forces with underage buyers to bust the stores, no one to stop the wheels of intoxication from turning and a law enforcement group that still believed a ride home or following you to your house with a stern talking too or speech to your parents was sufficient. We were just a bunch of really young kids with no common sense doing things that could (and in some cases did) change our lives forever.

So where am I going with this?

Today life is so much more complicated. Laws are tougher and enforced with vigor. Lawsuits are the norm as opposed to a last option. We as parents have much more to lose and so do our children.

It (temptation) is around us everyday, enveloping our moral compasses; Drink Budweiser and beautiful girls will flock to you. Stay thirsty my friends is touted as gorgeous twenty something’s caress the most interesting geezer in the world. Coors light can only be consumed by sheik sexy men who climb mountains to provide that ice-cold freshness for only you. Copenhagen is for the only the toughest of Cowboys, baseball players and such, and if you want to be the sexiest, coolest, darkest most brooding social misfit then light up! There is a multitude of products for you to burn down those lungs of yours.

Don’t worry though, thanks to the errors of your parents (such as myself) we are also drowning in advice, direction, and choices provided from the likes of MADD-Mothers Against Drunk Driving, TATU Teens Against Tobacco Use, AA-Alcoholics Anonymous etc.. yet despite this barrage of media saturation both in schools and on the street through social media outlets etc. Our kids continue to laugh it off as if nothing will ever happen to them! Do you know why they laugh it off, shrug their shoulders and continue to do as they please? Because we allow it, as parents WE are not unified. We are not setting the standard. WE never learned from our mistakes and are now in some instances relieving those glory years through our children without any thought about the ramifications within our modern-day justice system! ITS NOT 1983 ANYMORE PEOPLE!!!!!

Here is where my problem grows larger.

In the logical sense I am a hypocrite for telling my 14-year-old son not to drink solely based upon my torrid past.(Regardless of the obvious under 21 reality) Recently he was busted partaking in a bottle of beer with a friend. No doubt both of them were covered in AXE body spray, sipping their micro brews just waiting for Victoria’s secret models to fall from the sky on angels wings. I mean seriously they had 2 out of 3 of what advertising agents are gleefully promising the male species on television! So who am I to say he shouldnt do this? Drinking beer with friends; being one who went out of his way to do so at his age it is a conundrum for sure? What is the big deal anyways, its one beer right?

I can see it in his eyes, when his mother and I talk with him about consequences for his actions. The same genetic eye roll, the same blank stare, the very same I dont know what the hell I am talking about tone in his voice! Then just as my blood begins to boil and my teeth cant clench any tighter as I suffer through watching a smaller version of myself reincarnated! I think fine let him head down this path, let him learn the hard way, the same way I learned to become a complete failure! Her you go! Have at it! Your future will now consist of never being able to chase your dreams as a young man because once the party bug bites it’s a hard infection to shake! It’s all you will think about and everything else WILL SUFFER!

But I can’t do it…. I cant let him follow a path leading eventually to the possibility of losing everything he and his parents have worked so hard to achieve. Having been there, walked in those same old alcohol/barf soaked shoes, living through it was an exhausting personal, internal struggle to overcome and the time lost, I can never retrieve.

Like I said I was lucky. Not everyone is so…

Today our children not only risk losing their identities through alcohol/tobacco use, but with social media girls are at the highest risk ever of sexual impropriety. illicit photos taken, shared with god knows who, advances that would be thwarted otherwise, even rape.  The same goes for our young men, temptation is too great for their VERY underdeveloped minds! Hormones raging, social media at their finger tips, throw in peer pressure, some alcohol and a full-fledged conflagration is brewing. We expect them to act like men, their bodies begin to look like little men, they carry themselves in some case like men and yet we forget their minds are still that of a child!

So my worries continue; not just for my child (which is why I am rambling so), but for all our promising young adults. I don’t know how to fix this problem, I don’t know how to get other parents on board, I don’t know the answer when it comes to keeping my child on the straight and narrow. But I do know from what I have seen, a storm is brewing, our children are at risk, and it seems as though we are all living a life as if it (something horrible) will never happen to us, our children, or our families.

I will leave you all with this.

Last night I sat my boy down and told him as calmly and directly as I could.

Son, I know you are going to do stupid things, its genetic! (Insert laugh here) But I want you to know if that idiocy ever leads to you becoming inebriated or climbing into a vehicle with a drunk friend you need to call me. I will come and get you and your friends anywhere, anytime. I never want you to be so afraid of being punished that you make the wrong choice hoping you wont get caught. But let it be known, the very next day you will face your mother and I to answer for what you have done the night before.

He agreed then wondered why it was so important, that I drill this knowledge into his head. In his mind all he could correlate our conversation to was the fact he had drunk ONE lone beer the week before and I was seriously overreacting.

I looked him in the eyes, leaned over the counter and in a dead calm voice asked him. Have you ever been there when a mother is being informed her son was killed in a vehicle accident with a few of his friends and alcohol was suspected?

He looked at me and said; (sullenly) no

I placed my hand on his and told him I had, it hurts really bad. (my throat tightens and hurts as I type this)

Then just as calmly said; please dont ever put that responsibility upon someone else because you made a bad choice. It’s not fair, it never goes away and it can never be taken back.

I am hoping he understands….

Talk to your children about drinking, talk to your children about tobacco use, follow-up on their extra curricular activities, its your job to NOT be their friends, its your job to MAKE them hate you at some point, It’s your job to drive them crazy and when it’s all done hopefully with a little luck they turn into outstanding adults who will always remain your child, but have now earned your friendship.

Then sit back, reflect on another year gone by while enjoying watching the very same traits you instilled in them trickle down to their children, your grandchildren.

norman rockwell santa

 

Advertisements

The man in the mirror, the dad staring back….

man in the mirror

Every day starts out exactly the same. Rising from my bed, a slow shuffle carries my hurting body into a bathroom where I come face to face with the one person I fight with the most.

Me.

It doesn’t matter whether I am at work or home, this process is exactly the same. Some days I like this person more than others, but for the most part we argue and fight constantly. I don’t know where my inner animosity arises but it is a part of who I am, what I will become and it stands in the way of every decision ever made in my life.

And I wonder.

Am I the only person fighting this inner fight? There is no guide book to a person’s life. Yes there are numerous books one may immerse themselves in to obtain information, but a reality remains that we as human beings spend our entire lives accumulating information making informed or by the gut decisions. Then we log our successes or failures away in that little brain of ours for which we only use a tenth of its actual power only to repeat the process all over again. Some will triumph and some will continue to flounder, drowning in the very mediocrity forced upon ourselves through a lack of conviction and confidence. Many will rise above, hearing the honesty associated with help offered while others will hear only what they want to hear. The wall of pride and stubbornness combined with an ever increasing annoying little voice in a man’s head telling them when they to look in the mirror; they are doing it all wrong!

I am a combination of both.

Pride, unearned, inexperienced, accumulated pride has kept me from growing to a potential that for some strange unexplained reason I know is within my reach. So how do I overcome this mountain placed before me?

There is a yearning deep inside my soul to help people, it has always been there, whether through deeds or a good story which may make them smile. My need to make someone feel better, help them through a crisis, fix a problem and carry their weight has indeed been a blessing and a curse all at once.

Since I was a small child fear ruled my life. The fear of failure, embarrassment or someone calling me out publicly kept me largely in the shadows. As I grew I found storytelling to be a release from the doldrums of my normal life. Real stories, occasionally twisted and spun with colorful exaggeration enticing a listener to pay attention, find something they could relate too or swim within the humor associated. As an adult there was more than storytelling needed as I began to feel a yearning to “walk the walk” instead of merely talking the talk. More action, challenges, more times I was told; you can’t. This of course only drove me to prove not only “I could” but I could do it better and faster sharing my experiences along the way hoping to entice others into taking a chance.

Writing came back into my life (Thank you Pam Adams SVHS creative writing teacher) and awakened something left for dead a long time ago. Words, the English language, a glorious medium to share, read, listen in one’s own voice and learn. Where else but through the written word can one interpret their very own story or piece of advice and come away with a mental picture that belongs solely to them? Definitely not by having it prepared for the recipient by a producer or videographer. That is left for the movie makers who wish us to just sit and absorb. Never questioning what we are witnessing with our eyes, for we are their captives, listening, absorbing exactly what ever feeling, emotion or storyline they the producers wish us to walk away with. Slowly becoming mindless drones.

So here we are today. Before I sat down, I was yearning for a story, any story, I have over ten written and carefully placed in file and yet not a one of them in my opinion are good enough for anyone else’s eyes. Walking into the bathroom to wash my hands before sitting down this afternoon and type, I find myself staring once again at the man in the mirror. A Walter Mitty like expression cast upon my face. But what does this man staring back want from me?

It is a known fact this man doesn’t have all the answers, he stares back with the very same intensity thrown his direction. Brow scrunched down, eyes on fire, wrinkles now taking the place of what was once smooth, chubby skin. He no longer feels any burden to prove anything to anybody but instead wants desperately to help someone, anyone, learn from all his mistakes (and there are plenty). The argument begins! How do I do it, why do I want to share and does anybody really care?

Then like a slap across the face it comes to me; what if there were fathers like myself, men staring in the mirror trying to find an answer, tired of listening to educated prophets explain what their inner most thoughts should be. Exactly how you are supposed to behave, picking roads you are supposed to travel, explaining the experiences and stages of life you are supposed to partake. What if dads or soon to be dads just wanted to hear from someone who has experienced portions of life that in fact may relate to them on a more personal level? Made mistakes and found answers the HARD way and although success is a measurement only you as a person can scale. Maybe just maybe someone might learn something that sounds reasonable. Not contrived or demeaning.

Stories and advice that are important and ring true; not because someone holds a Master’s degree and spent $100,000.00 dollars doing so (something I haven’t nor ever will do). But advice given and received in turn from someone simple, someone struggling, someone who believes the best knowledge gleaned comes from a hands on approach, a set of listening ears and a kind heart.

Someone who stares into the distance and wonders why?

That is what drives me to write, what I personally want to share, and that is why I started this blog, started chronicling the journey my family has taken through my eyes.

Please share your experiences on my blog, please share so others may share too. My wish is one day this blog has so many dads, moms, parents talking and expressing themselves over every decision, choice, rant, story involving our lives, our children that we can all laugh, cry and share our time as one, as a virtual family, then maybe there will be a few less men staring in the mirror, looking at the deep lines in their faces and the grey hair upon their heads wondering if they have done it all right.

The man in the mirror will be someone they really want to see…

man in the mirror two

 

#dads, #stayathomedads,#sharinglife

I may be a parental failure.

images

 

Today my dears, a realization hit with the ferocity of a hammer.

I am a horrible father….

Since becoming a father on July 11, 1996 nothing has been more important for myself personally than becoming an extremely successful father (yes I am competitive). No books, no mentor following me around pointing out the do’s, don’ts, and why’s along with sharp poignant strategy to overcome even the smallest of situations. Nope just me and the wife figuring things out as we go.

Along this journey there has been incredible highs, overwhelming lows and obstacles thrown my way that far exceed anything one could ever have imagined in the parenting realm. Work, friends, my personal time and space all cast aside sometimes begrudgingly, but cast aside none the less because my eye has always been on the prize. That prize of course, becoming a great father with absolutely wonderful well-rounded children who outside the home are polite, practical, hardworking, giving, with empathy for their fellow-man, a strong social conscience, a definite awareness of right and wrong and a complete understanding that all actions bear consequences both good and bad. I don’t think it is too much to ask as a parent for your child to meet this glaringly obvious criteria before entering our revolving wacky, social populous. It is after all my job to help them become successful in life. As one half of this parenting equation and after time spent giving up on my own selfish wants and dreams it is with great sadness that I must report. I am indeed a horrible failure of a father.

A Horrible father you say; why how can this be true? I mean we all see the Instagram perfect Brady Bunch family pictures you post almost daily on Facebook! Is that all a lie?? Well my darlings its like this; after dealing with the emotional distress of graduating one child from high school while walking another warily through the very same gates. Struggling to understand the wants and needs of my, not quite but almost teenage daughter who balls her fists up whenever things don’t go her way like DeNiro in Raging Bull. Then standing slump shouldered and befuddled while my 9-year-old refers in the third person repeatedly to his “being” in the afterlife to avoid putting down the iPad and read an assigned book for the evening that I realized something is amiss. The whining, the complaining, the hatred or mean looks cast our way whenever we investigate, disseminate, initiate, propagate and communicate, well, it all just seems wrong. My parenting is missing something, I must not be reaching out to the children in a way they understand. Are my ways to old and antiquated, am I expecting too much? After doing further investigation I have determined the answer to be yes! I have gone about parenting all wrong, way, way wrong. Thanks to the internet, the Disney Channel, Snap-chat, Instagram, askfm, and Yik Yak I feel the needs of all children everywhere and it has nothing to do with my plan of attack or game plan as it were. No sir I was not only WAY off base I wasn’t even in the same ball park!

So from this point on it is with great trepidation that I must announce a new game plan, a winning formula for parental success! It has taken hours of deciphering the aforementioned comments, concerns and wickedly smart one liners thrown at us parents by our own children, both in person and on the internet. But seriously I think I got it down and failure is not an option!!!! So here goes..

From this point on I Betty declare here and now to my children that I will no longer:

  • Tell you what time to go to bed or care if you even “make” that bed.
  • Remind you to do your homework
  • Let you know you need a shower
  • Expect you to care about your grades
  • Expect you to study and achieve good grades
  • Expect there to be good grades when I check the schools web-site
  • Expect the teacher to give me a glowing review when I ask about your grades
  • Aw hell, even expect you to go to school
  • Limit your time on the x-box, Nintendo, or Playstation to the weekend only after your chores and homework are completed.
  • Have any chores for you to do at all. I apologize for the burden of work we placed on you.
  • Expect you to clean up your room
  • Lift the toilet seat before you pee
  • Put the toilet seat down after you pee
  • Clean up the god damn pee!!!
  • Flush the toilet
  • Brush your teeth
  • Do your own laundry
  • Fold your own laundry
  • Put away your own laundry
  • Even give a shit about what freaking clothes you are wearing!
  • Make you wash your hair again (of course this is if you are still showering)
  • Ask you to pick up after yourself
  • Feed your animals
  • Clean up after your animals
  • Hell even care at all about YOUR animals, set them free!
  • Care if you talk back/smart mouth your mother. It is open season from here on out!
  • Ask to see YOUR phone, even though we pay the bill I fully understand possession is 9/10ths the law. I am sorry for invading your privacy.
  • Look through your phones apps-once again apologies for the privacy invasion. My bad…
  • Punish you and take away your phone for inappropriate texts, pictures, and comments left on your phone by not only you but your friends as well. (That’s right you little bastards I know who you are and I have seen body parts that I cannot erase from my brain)
  • Set limits on your use or interpretation of the English language. No more G rating expected and all forms of slang are now allowed! Got it playa! I know sick huh! Word…
  • Monitor the television shows you watch.
  • Make you go to church
  • Ask you to help elderly people, such as grandma and grandpa. They are just gonna die anyways right?
  • Expect you to do the dishes after dinner
  • Expect you to help with dinner
  • Expect you to eat dinner. Your mother and I are hiring a professional eater for you.
  • Care whether you spend the entire day inside lying around or outside, lying around.

That was just a few examples but as you can see young children, fruit of my loins, this world is all yours for the taking! No more stupid old parents and their even stupider rules to bog you down! Dope huh?

This new winning strategy is sure to be a hit! I will no longer hang my head in shame as that of a failure! No more confrontation, no more irritation, no more aggravation, it is all yours, all three of you left in our house and you will chant the sonnet that is my name from the mountains high and it will ring sound from the hills below! It will be glorious, magnanimous, there will be parenting books written about me for decades to come as others soon follow my lead!

Things shall be written like, visionary, mind bending genius, a parenting guru! I shall grace the cover of People magazine and the View will book me ASAP!

Yes a new brighter future awaits!

Let the children live I say! Let them be free to express themselves anyway they see fit, do whatever they want to do and experience life in a way only our youth can admire! Imagine! Imagine the adults they will grow to become, the leaders, the thinkers, the pillars within their communities all because WE took the time to release them from the parental chains that bound them from true expression!!!! Yes….Yes… YESSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!

Wait…….. Maybe I am not failure after all……

kid