The secret to raising boys from this fathers perspective.

The secret to raising boys from my perspective is quite simple. 

Get married, have wife give birth to boy, tell boy he is wrong, repeat! 

Now before all of you, everyone deserves a trophy, what about their self esteem, let the child raise itself free from the oppressive parent to find their unbridled passion in life parents jump my shit! Let me explain.

It’s my experience that girls are smarter, and quicker to understand the learned message no matter the age. They are not trying to emulate you the male role model in any way. My daughter looks up to me, respects my opinion, and puts forth effort to make changes whenever conflict or mistakes occur. She is an ever evolving, growing, expanding being who has aspired to become her own person following the teachings of her combined parental figures from the monent her chubby little knees could carry her unassisted across our kitchen floor. Oh don’t get me wrong she can clam up, lock down and square that jaw with steely reserve when she wants to like no other! But she never stops learning. 

My boys on the other hand would light fireworks from their asses at the drop of a hat! 

Yep from the minute all three of them could walk it has been a constant parental repetition of; STOP! DONT DONT DO THAT! WHAT THE HOLY HELL HAVE YOU DONE!! Or my personal favorite; AND YOU THOUGHT THAT WAS A GOOD IDEA, WHY??? Now some are better than others, but the old adage; boys will be boys always plays true. 

Snakes and frogs either left to scare mom or shoved in her face as she opens the door! Fish guts on the floor, rotting carcasses left forgotten in the basement for taxidermy, dirty clothes scattered across the house that apparently belongs to no one. 

Tools spread across the shop that no one has used, broken ranch equipment that no one has touched, trucks that are not running right and have never, ever made that noise before as enough mud falls from their wheel wells to build a city of indigenous huts! 

Ah yes boys. 

They will tell you from the minute they learn something, anything that you have been doing it all wrong. They have it all figured out, don’t need your advice, cannot for the life of them understand why you don’t feel they are ready to head out on their own, or take over some of the major projects in need of completion. You sir are old, frail and in need of stepping aside for the young, naturally accomplished male. 

They have no real understanding of time, and commitment because everything comes so easy for them in their minds. They are the true masters of their domain. Yet they are doing it all wrong! Their thinking is all wrong, the mistakes being made are from being wrong and at times are disasterous! 

Thusly my job as a male parental figure is simple. 

Raise them, tell them they are wrong, repeat. 

Because if I told them they were right they would never be mad at me. If they were never mad at me they really wouldn’t listen to what I have to say. Nothing sticks in a youthful male craw when testosterone is involved more than hearing your dad say you are wrong! 

That is when your boy will do everything he can to prove YOU are wrong. Then and only then will you be proven right, and with a celebratory beer in your hand all the wrong doings of your childhood come full circle. You are then stuck with the sound of your dads voice  echoing in the back of your head with witty one liners like: you know son if you had half a brain it would be an improvement! Or How did two average morons like your mother and I produce such a fucking genius? 

Ahhhh good times, good memories. Yes that much cherished sound of the old man reverberating through my brain, calling me a dumbass! It truly is the circle of life!

So there it is, my secret to raising boys! Tell them they are wrong, watch them fail, slap your own forehead while rubbing a little more hair from you dome, embrace the grey hair that comes with raising boys and relish in one of two things. The joy of when they do it right (your way) and succeed, along with the joy of telling them on that rare occasion they did it their way and it worked that maybe, just this one time they weren’t such an idiot after all. 

Remember dads sharing knowledge is caring and as a father the stronger your repertoire the easier to produce disappointment along with the better the one liners will be your son uses when he has a son. 

Dumbass….

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My name is Betty and I have an addiction..

Sitting in the stands watching junior rodeo today I couldn’t help but continually pull my phone from the upper left pocket of my shirt. Now this doesn’t seem like much of a “to do” as it were but as I kept referencing the electronic brain keeper between events it occurred to me I might just have somewhat of a problem. Not a dang it’s not working fast enough or shoot I left the sprinklers on or even an oops my wife texted me I forgot to call her type of a problem. But something much bigger than that! I believe I have an addiction?

Yep an addiction to instant gratification of flowing information spewing forth from this 2×4 inch screen! Every minute I am not moving this “apple” of a device comes out to fill an imagined or ill perceived void within my life! Seriously while I am typing right now my gaze continues to wander over towards this mesmerizing gismo as if it’s going to leave me, run away! You know self-destruct in Mission Impossible grandeur or heaven forbid its screen will just stay black, never to illuminate my life again with such mind bending information like what the hell Ryan Lochte is doing at this very moment or if a cage match has been declared between the two most unfit individuals to ever run a presidential campaign! Better yet I wonder who is posting something awesome on Facebook the “real” reality on the internet! Wait, ok that’s not a bad thing, I really like keeping up with all my friends. Until FB there were lots of people I cared about but lost touch with so the good intent or reason it was created side of FB still keeps a thumbs up from me! But with all of this power to reach out into our world instantaneously at my fingertips (once again I am not saying it is a complete bad thing) I also realized there is a bigger problem than my addiction to reading about Joe from Tennessee’s disgusting racism or Cheryl’s equally disgusting reverse racism or Brock the rapists light sentence (asshole) while along with all the inequalities, injustices and hatred pounding our senses every day making us wonder if we are headed towards anarchy and civil war (which is exactly what every other country hopes for) or if we can pull our heads out of are arses and get things together with love and understanding! Yes people there is a larger problem for me the newly crazed information junkie!!!

You see this open age of rapid fire information has changed my ability to read, absorb and understand! Ok I know that’s not worse than the direction our country is headed but hey, I needed a buildup so cut me some slack!

Yep, information today is fast and spun so well; but with whatever source it comes from who knows if it’s true or not and in reality I don’t think people really care! The way I read through stuff now is more like an Evelyn Wood reading dynamics course (only us older folks will understand that reference) than with retainable substance. If you don’t get me hooked within the first couple of lines well this magic device will find someone or something that will! Hence the ability to feed our minds with miss-information is formed. Don’t think for a second the story writing internet gurus don’t know this! Through careful data collection they have determined sensationalism earns clicks, clicks equal views and views equal a chance for an advertiser to be seen which in turn creates well spent advertising dollars funding the source or writer! The best part is these stories don’t have to be accurate or even good, and judging from the atrocious grammar contained within them it is obvious no one cares. But the damage done is there for all to see! When I read anything now I no longer settle in, gaining traction on whatever the author is describing; no absorbing relevant information or deducing a hypothesis from a well written piece. Nope, my brain begins to rapid fire after the second paragraph, I may stick it out through a couple more paragraphs but you better get to the point and quick or I begin scanning ahead, looking for key words to help me extrapolate what the author is “really” saying because let’s face it there is a hidden agenda in every written internet piece right? I mean that’s what all the commenting, shit stirring trolls who have anything to say about anything on any posting want you to believe while they are throwing emotional grenades in all directions just waiting for the explosion creating more hatred and discontent!

Also don’t get me started on what it has done for my ability to simply relax and enjoy a novel. My brain can no longer sit that long, moving slowly from page to page, waiting for a story to build, characters to develop, a plot to thicken as it were! Nope I might as well read just enough to learn who the characters are and then jump to the back of the book! There novel finished, case closed, I wonder what’s happening in the real world! Great job James Patterson killed your latest work in 42 pages! Don’t really care about the other 326! I Googled a review of the book helping me to plug in the missing clues. Cue me picking up my phone and OH LOOK IT’S A BABY IN A SKUNK COSTUME CRAWLING ON THE FLOOR FREAKING PEOPLE OUT!!!!! AWWWWWWW ISNT THAT CUTE! I MUST SHARE!!! Wait someone has commented it is child abuse, another has commented the child is suffering under the weight of that heavy costume and the parents should be arrested! Oh look a third says its Obamas fault! Yay!!!! Instantaneous gratification of idiot proportion right here at my fingertips!!! Ahhhh the world is right again, just as fucked up as when I put down my phone to try and read this stupid novel! Thank god that 15 minutes of my life I’ll never get back is over and I am on to more web surfing! My daily fix is in.

Now this is all happening to me; a 50 year old fairly educated, well-spoken adult who has no problems saying it like it is while being in command of his personal abilities to say yes or no to anything. Time and life experiences have brought me to this point. As an adult yourself I am sure you could probably draw the very same conclusion? Because you’re a smart, witty, thoughtful, educated, filled with life experiences person with the ability to put down that phone, turn off that pad or laptop at any time. Right?

So let me ask you this.

If a phone, pad or laptop with such far reaching potential and the power to change my personal ability to read, disseminate information, come to conclusions, and not just any conclusion but well education conclusions can change the way I learn and retain information, warp my sensibility, and control the extent of my emotions all while allowing me the freedom to say what I want when I want to anyone within the world wide web’s reach without repercussion can do this to me as an adult.

What do you think it is doing to our children?

Put it down, I dare you. Leave it down for the day, two days, a week! I dare you! I double dog dare you!!!

You can’t! Neither can I! We are addicted! Our children are addicted too and it is rewriting the hardwiring program witin their brains! I see it in our youth with emotional outbursts if juniors pad is taken away or it’s nowhere to be found. An inability to work our way through problems of any kind because the answer is on another web page or the YouTube channel! Kids becoming completely disorganized and afraid of trying anything away from their computer devices. I have heard stories of children in their rooms at almost midnight still scanning the internet with eyes either wide open and bloodshot or passed out with an iridescent glow upon their faces.

Teenager’s necks straining downward looking at their phones while walking, riding bikes recklessly, or sitting in their cars. A world of wonder passing them by all why they laugh at an instagramapictuetubeasnapchatamoment. They have no idea where they are when traveling with family because they are focused on their phones and can’t go a minute without texting someone, anyone, about anything. They are continually afraid they are missing some magic social moment, a minute shared between friends while moving blindly through life. Once I heard a story about a child’s phone that was broken and she had no device for a few weeks. According to a friend she was a different child, she was the daughter they had before biting into the apple.

Does any of this sound like addictive personality traits to you?

It is, I recognize it as an adult. I worry about what all of this is doing to our children and I worry what is to become of our country as we continue let the “benefits” of an electronic age rule our very lives.. The dumbing down of a society, the dependence on electronics, an inability to think for ourselves and the desensitizing of our youth. What about us adults? As we become more dependent what is it doing to our abilities to interact with others? We have a shield for our hatred, a hiding place for our sorrows and slowly our abilities to interact with each other are fading too as we sit together but rest alone, everyone focused on our individual portals to the world, ignoring what is right in front of our face. Other human beings.

I am no different, I am not preaching, I am simply stating what appears to me as fact.

My name is Betty and I have an addiction…

 

A “Betty”Fathers day thought.

Its Father’s day.

Yesterday while saying our goodbyes as we prepared to leave Bishop California after a week at the California High School Rodeo Finals, a friend slapped me on the back and said; well at least we will all be home for father’s day!

I chuckled and made some smart ass quip about spending the day cleaning the trailer, tack, horses and clothing. Yup father’s day at its finest! Grumble, grumble…..

This morning after rousting my crew awake, driving one to craziness as he drug his very tired butt outside to feed, I decided maybe Father’s day was indeed a perfect day to be revered. But not in the way most would think.

Father’s day has always been a day for others to appreciate their dads. The men who shaped and modeled, be it through exemplary parenting, a fumbled menagerie of discourse or simply a reflection of horrific role modeling that brought you, now an adult, into the parental place you are today; good bad or otherwise.

One problem for me on this day of days.

My dad isn’t here anymore.

My father passed away on December 31st 2015. This is my first father’s day without him. Something I am realizing this morning I took for granted. He is not here for me to call in the morning, take to lunch or dinner in the afternoon, hand a card to and hug. His frail shaky body no longer walks the driveways between our houses, his voice no longer bellowing larger than life yelling “slow down” towards speeding cars lost on our dirt road. No lecturing my boys on speeding around the property aboard a quad, dirt bike, tractor or horse. No laughter at Jakes antics or pride while watching Cody triumph at just about everything he does. No glee watching Parker or a simple, sly faced smile while seeing Jessica ride in the arena. No dad for me to bounce ideas about a horse from, just silence, a vacancy, an emptiness and I cannot help but stare at the spot in the driveway where he passed.

Yesterday to make emotional matters worse my wife’s uncle passed away from a tumor in his brain. We all knew it was coming yet as I am sure you all know that doesn’t make it any easier. I understand it really shouldn’t matter but not making it an additional 24 hours, his children are now spending father’s day without their dad. It seems like a silly thought but it is one of the man things I found myself thinking about first thing this morning. How about instead I worry about the simple fact a good man is gone and the day has nothing to do with it? Maybe it struck me weird because I, an outsider thought Brian was an amazingly intelligent man, one of the kindest I have ever had the honor of knowing and to not be here for his family to revere just hit me weird. I always looked forward to seeing him at family functions because the conversation was always intriguing. He had done so many things few of us ever dream of doing. But most of all he was an explorer. To me that is what living life is about. We as human beings never truly explore beyond our little circle or comfort zone. I am speaking of not just what is beyond the horizon but within ourselves as well? Always talking a good game there are very few who actually follow through. Brian was one of those people who actually followed through. His presence within our family will be greatly missed and my heart aches for Jacy’s dad, Brian’s brother. Blair has lost his mom and now his brother all within a relatively short time. The void must be huge, the struggle within very tough.

I wish I could say I cannot imagine what his family is going through but I can and I am sure today, a holiday dedicated to fathers will feel empty at best.

This week for me was spent surrounded by kids, families and friends. Rodeo is an amazing collection of hard working people all trying their very best to survive while providing for their children. Family is always at the heart of this sport and it has always drawn me to it since I was a kid. Stands filled with cheering parents. Animals treated with love, better than many people treat themselves all working just as hard to perform. Kids not just competing against other kids but helping their competitors as well! It doesn’t matter what district you are from in this state it is not uncommon for kids from those competing districts to be helping others. They come here as competitors/rivals but leave here friends. District one rider needs a horse because theirs is hurt, no problem as District 8 lets them borrow one. District 5 needs a saddle? District three to the rescue! Don’t even get me started about the rough stock! It doesn’t matter what district you are from everyone is on deck supporting, helping and ensuring that not one competitor isn’t taken care of before they nod their head, signaling to open the gate! There are roughly 300 kids, the best in their events from across the state with parents who should be proud of not only what their kids have accomplished but what they as parents have accomplished as well.

So today on Father’s day since my father is no longer here to say thank you. I am going to go a different direction. Inspired by a week surrounded by children and family, a week filled with victory and loss, a week ending with my own family’s tragic sorrow.

I am going to say this;

Thank you to all the fathers who inspire children across this great nation, those who stand tall choking back tears during successes and failures of not only their own kids but others as well and doing so proudly while lighting the way for others to see. Every father who knows exactly when to say the right thing at the most inopportune time, creating those perfect building blocks for a child to use as a foundation for future success. Thank you to all the dads who understand the importance of putting their own dreams aside so children and again not just their own may flourish. Those dads who know being a father isn’t just about raising your own kid but holding a positive influence over every child who crosses your path. The world can only evolve if we love each other equally, help each other selflessly and not just focus on what is ours.

To the dads who become fathers to those who don’t have one any more. Who remember the importance a parental figure plays in a child’s life. Especially a child who is alone. To all the dads who were a father to me when mine wasn’t around. The ones who ripped my ass when I needed it without fear of reprisal from my own dad. My dad believed it took a village and if I was caught doing something wrong then by all means let me have it!! It is the same way I parent today and if someone doesn’t like it they can take it up with me in private. I am a very good listener.

Today is also important as I reflect on not just how special I believe my own children to be but all the kids I have had the privilege of parenting in some small way or another. I think of all of you all the time. I am thankful for this crazy social media thingy called Facebook because I can see your smiling faces, watch you all continue to grow as adults, friends, family members and even parents of your own. You all make me so proud (and you know who you are) my door is always open, there will always be a seat at my dinner table for you and an ear to listen if you ever need any help.

I think about my own kids on this day. How lucky I am to have four very different individuals living under this old farm house roof. They all drive me crazy at times, and leave me exhausted but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

To Cody, Jake, Jessica and Parker; Thanks for being my kids, allowing me to be your dad. Thank you for filling my life with memories, joys, laughter, and experiences that could never be replaced. But most of all on this Father’s day, a day where I cannot hug my dad and say thank you. Thank you for filling my life with love. I love you all so very much!!

I’m going to close out today with a simple request from all of you.

There are some who are hurting today because their father is no longer around. Reach out to them and let them know you care. There are those who you as a father or male figure have had an influence upon in your life. Drop them a note to say hello. There are some children out there who may need you as an extra fatherly figure in their life to help them along the way. Reach out to them. There are many who maybe don’t need you in a parental manner, but as a strong male figure they can trust. Step forward and make it happen. We all lead busy lives, and excuses are easy to come by, but I ask the simple question; if not you then who?

But most of all be thankful God helped create those children you have, who love you more than anything in this world. Remain the very best father you can be, you are going to screw up, make gigantic mistakes trust me! I am the KING of mistakes!!!! Just own them, apologize when needed, stand tall and do the very best job you can do.

The rewards are amazing.

Oh and Happy Father’s Day……

 

 

 

 

M is for Mom….

Mother’s day was founded in 1908. Its reverence came to fruition after Anna Jarvis held a memorial celebration in honor of her mother Ann Reeves Jarvis at St. Andrews Methodist Church in Grafton West Virginia. Anna had begun campaigning for the holiday a year after her mother a well-known peace activist who cared for wounded soldiers on both sides of the American Civil War died. Ann also created Mother’s Day Work Clubs to address public health issues within the community. Anna wanted to honor her mother along with honoring every mother out there for as she stated they were “the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world”.

In 1908 The US Congress rejected a Mother’s Day proposal joking they would also need to honor a “Mother in Laws Day”! Yet through persistence and a need to recognize the extraordinary efforts by Anna’s mother Ann, by 1911 all US States began to observe Mother’s Day as an official holiday.

No matter its origins, Mother’s Day is upon us once again. A holiday that in my opinion has become less about its true intentions and more about commercialization, much like Father’s Day and Valentine’s Day.

Mother’s day for me is not about just saying Happy Mother’s day to my mom. Although due to my extremely hectic life that is about all my poor mom gets as of late. A woman who deserves only the utmost of respect for all the dread I put her through. It is about taking a moment to recognize not only all mom has done for you, but all she has not done for you as well. It is the things mom hasn’t done for you that have built and developed your character into what it is today. Yes she does so much to ease your life’s miniscule burdens simply by being your mother. But it is the hard choices you make on your own, the times she isn’t there as a crutch to lean on, but is a phone call away to listen, leaving you to your own devices without interfering that make all the difference in the world. It is about allowing you to become you with nothing more than a look or facial expression that needs no words. There isn’t a mom alive that cannot change a young man’s course with nothing more than an MMMMMHHHMMMM or what were you thinking tone in her voice, all while allowing you to believe you made the correction in course all on your own. Our moms are the planet for which we orbit. Without them we would be lost.

Mother’s day for me is also about everyone else’s mom as well.

You see I wouldn’t be the man I am today without a hoard of surrogate mothers grabbing me by the ear, sitting me down to chew my ass, or giving me a hug when I needed it most. The moms who fed us after school without so much as a complaint, helped us with our homework because we were together as friends! A group of scraggly hoodlums helping each other out and that made these moms smile. It was the mom’s that approved of me dating their daughters and believe it or not it was also the mom’s that did not approve of me dating their daughters that made a huge difference in my life.

Swim team moms, wrestling moms, 4-H moms (those were the toughest), FFA moms, and any mom who thought if even for a moment I was worth it are permanently lodged in my heart. From laughing at my jokes, treating me as one of their own, fixing up my scrapes, not telling my parents the whole truth when I was complete jackass or telling me to get the hell out complete with a motherly ass chewing! These women, mothers of my friends who knew it was up to them to not only ensure their own kids turned out ok, but their children’s friends did as well. They showed us love and compassion, making sure we knew they would always be there for us if and when we needed.

Each one of these women made a huge impact on my life whether they knew it or not. They are the sole reason I try my hardest to make a positive impact on every single young person I meet, or that crosses through our threshold at the ranch!

To not only my mom, but ALL moms who have taken the time to love and care for more than just their own children.

Happy Mother’s Day

Without all of you there really would be none of us….

Lets talk about????

Today while driving our children to their various locations of education, we crested a stretch of roadway that always leaves me feeling warm and fuzzy if I hit it at just the right time. You know sun placement across the tree tops, smell of damp dew in the air, that sort of thing. In the morning my brain is at its most active as this time in the car allows me to correlate the days activities into a hopefully well thought our prioritized list.

Driving through this little moment of Zen, I looked over at my teenage son and remember when my father used to tell me how a morning’s dawn was one of the most peaceful serene moments in a day. It bothered him that I usually slept right through it, missing the earth’s transformation from dark to light. I wondered if one day he would be in the same situation thinking the very same thing, wishing he had listened to me way back when?

And there it was. That moment when one thought creates a burst in the mental dam! Will he have heard anything during his adolescent tenure while fighting against his need to challenge the bull? All Teenage boys go through this period, some sooner, some later, but at some point their testosterone tells them it is time to challenge the bull. It is where they learn to take a beating (metaphorically), get up, learn, and try again. It is a period of time that molds them into the men they will become, learning to follow rules because it is the right thing to do. It is also when they fight an overwhelming need for acceptance from not only their parents but friends and love interests, or prospective love interests and this is where personally and socially things can begin to become, well, convoluted.

Let’s talk about sex.

Now both my sons and I have had “THE TALK”, and we have held this little sexual information conference on many occasions. I have felt it overly important as my parents and I never really covered the bases besides the obligatory: don’t have sex, it leads to kids and you will be in a lot of trouble.

We have discussed everything (if you are uncomfortable please leave now) from their own penises, to female body parts, how they function and what purpose each intricate portion serves. They were “grossed out” in the beginning for having such conversations with their father, but it has gotten easier over time.

The gist after all from my perspective is a little saying I have shared on numerous occasions with any teenager that will listen to this old man.

Boys are boys, girls are girls and you are all just friends until you get into college. It is impossible for you to commit to someone else until you discover just who the hell you are. Then and only then can you decide whether or not you are able to share yourself with someone else.

This is wisdom not handed down to me but learned the hard way as my entire youth and young adult life was spent chasing someone else’s dreams in hopes of finding out who I was. As a 49 year old man I still have not chased my dreams, I know who I am now, (and I kind of like myself) but have no ability to discover myself further due to many responsibilities that rest upon my shoulders. I have been blessed with wonderful friends, children and an equally excellent partner in life. But to have learned much more about myself at a younger age would have been worth its weight in gold.

What worries me as we continue into town on this serene morning is even though my focus was off when it came to myself, I did have a great youth, meeting new friends and dating some super awesome young women. But that’s just it, we dated. There were phone calls, in front of parents, and nervousness when it came to even talking to some of these girls. I was always terrified to ask a girl out. If there was a girl I liked it took me weeks sometimes to get the nerve up to do it! The funny thing is they always knew it was coming, boys just act stupid when they really like someone. It was the way it was. I heard lots of no’s. And even though it crushed me at times, there were some yes’s as well. It was fun, exhilarating and exhausting at times. We learned whether or not we actually liked each other or if we should just remain friends. In one case a girl I had liked for a really long time actually said yes, we went out on one date and everything that could go wrong did! When the night was over we tried to kiss and we realized instantaneously it felt like a brother and sister trying to smooch! YUCK!!! We had been friends for so long we had become family! It was an important lesson learned and taught me so much about myself and how my relationships affected people in ways I wasn’t even recognizing.

This is what’s eating at me! Our children today don’t need to do that anymore. Somewhere over the last thirty years we have gone from nervous dating to sexting! The theme is hooking up not going out! Our children are partaking in a very dangerous game of emotional instability centered on sex, photography, and one night hook ups all done through their phones! There is no more nervousness in making an impression! No more terror about what you should wear, how you should look, will she like me for who I am, will we have a good time and will she still like me when she gets home. Nope! Kids today are playing a very deadly game, combining image and self-worth, which can only lead to disaster! This really worries me! No, let me re-phrase, it scares the hell out of me! They are no longer asking for dates, but naked pictures! Texted or Snap-Chatted from their bathrooms, bedrooms and cars! That’s right mom and dad, while you are out working, doing laundry or watching Dancing with Stars downstairs your little angel has her or his pocket computer squirreled away popping high resolution photo’s for all to see. There is no worry about how it will affect someone or the damage caused if any of these pictures leak. And let me just say from what I am hearing the girls are as aggressive, as the boys!

None of them have a clue what they are doing or the implications associated and trust me, if you are reading this thinking; not my little angel or slugger! You are dead wrong. It has become a game for our children and they don’t understand the ramifications one bit.

Now we all know the mental end of it. Girl sends picture to boyfriend, boyfriend shares with all his friends because well, he is a teenage boy and that’s a half-naked girl! (Not an excuse, just the facts) Girl finds out about picture sharing and is devastated (rightfully so), feels as though she cannot look anyone in the face at school because she doesn’t know who has or hasn’t seen her naked. This scenario goes any direction you place it too. Boy/boy, girl/girl, boy/girl, girl/boy, it does not matter! It is damaging and cruel leaving psychological scars upon its victims that take years to repair. A few children have even committed suicide from suffering through their inner torment. These kids feel they doing something harmless but do not have the mental faculties to see the long term effects of their actions.

But let’s look at the legal aspect. Same scenario as above only now mom and dad are aware and have decided taking action is the appropriate response.

Police are notified, School is notified, an investigation ensues.

Our children are placed in handcuffs and hauled to jail for questioning. Why? It is the trafficking of child pornography. It doesn’t matter that said child wanted to send this naked picture, the child is underage. It does definitely matter the moment said child shared picture with friends, that is the very second they became a trafficker of child pornography. Remember all parties are underage.

The minimum sentence for trafficking is dependent upon your particular region but from what I could find doing a little old fashioned research it carries a minimum of 15 years!! 15 years in jail because two kids sent nudies to each other then, shared them with the world! Of these sentences vary upon severity and incidents. But the outcome is the same. Someone is getting arrested, someone may go to jail, many may have their lives ruined forever and someone may have to register as a sex offender.

So who do we blame? Because this is America and someone needs to be blamed for this heinous act continually perpetrated amongst our youth!

OURSELVES….

Didn’t see that coming did you?

We as adults are being outwitted and outplayed, not just by our children but society as a whole. It is our responsibility to keep up with technology and yet much as our parents did, we have taken a stance of ignorance. Touting such phrases as; it’s too complicated, if I need it worked on I’ll give it to my kid, they understand it much better than I do, why does it have to have so many features, it needs to be simpler. Funny thing about those blurbs are they come from recalling my parent’s excuses when it came to working this hot new little item called a VCR. Funny how it fits into today’s issues with computers and technology as a whole.

The problem is by taking that stance we are essentially giving the keys to the inmates so they may run the asylum. Our society as a whole has turned to electronics as a babysitter, a pacifier, a walking teacher loaded with information used under the guise of homework and learning. But the dark underbelly lurking inside is too much temptation for our young minds to handle. We have decided to accept its positives turning a blind eye to the negatives believing we have raised our children to know better. To be strong enough not to try and locate the end of the internet along with all of its little side roads and travels.

I began researching this issue after wondering just what exactly was on my teenage son’s phone. After searching through its contents we found some questionable apps and began wondering just what they may hide and why anything needed to be hidden at all. A long discussion was had about the power he held by owning his phone and using the technology appropriately. It also shined a light on our ability to monitor just what he was using his phone for and why. We spoke to him in detail about what is going on with others across the nation and how serious some of the offenses can become.

Today, he turns his phone in nightly. Yes now and again we slip up on that and don’t catch it and he feels a certain victory as is he has gotten away with something, but in the end he loses it for a few days and as he puts it; his social life is dead! Re-affirming my earlier comments about how sad it is our children no longer know how to date or socialize face to face for that matter.

The password cannot be changed. If it is he loses the phone again for a specified period of time. If it happens twice the phone is gone permanently.

When I ask for it, no matter where or when, he must turn it in without question. If he tells me to wait a minute while he erases texts, the phone is gone for a specified period of time. Second offense the phone is gone permanently. He is reminded to text as if a parent were reading it, for, as I often do, they just might be. Am I so naïve to believe he will never text inappropriate things? No, he has just gotten better at deleting them before I get ahold of his phone.

If he so much as thinks about touting that it is in fact his phone, I remind him it is not his phone, it is my phone, under my name, my contract and until he is 18 it is my job as a parent to ensure his growth as a human being, his safety from doing expectantly stupid things and until that time comes that he is an adult with all its super fun responsibilities. Tough shit.

I hate the goddamn phone but in today’s world it has become somewhat of a necessity. So we as parents who choose to arm our children with these boxes of mystery must become incredibly proactive. We must be on the watch out constantly because as soon as we learn one aspect of this electronic wonder there are numerous other factors working against us. The largest perpetrators working to defeat our parental policing?

Apps.

No matter what we do, or how we do it there are numerous app’s working to thwart our actions. Checking your kid’s iPhone and find it clear of all wrong doing? Look again. For there are numerous applications to help hide what junior doesn’t want you to see. These apps are the anti-parent. They share information then make it disappear! They capture screen images from the very transparent app for you to keep in a secret locked folder that only you have access! If that wasn’t enough to have a locked folder there is even an app to hide the app!!!!!

Here are a few app’s to keep an eye out for!

Calculator applications. There are a ton of these but here are a few of the more popular ones.

Best Secret Folder

Secret Photo& Video

Calculator hide

HiCalculator- Private Album

Private Photo

Fake Calculator

 

Individual app’s with unique app pictures that lead you to believe they are something other than what they are which is a locked secret folder.

Settings lock

Secret Piano Icon

Keep Safe photo vault

Don’t touch this

HiFolder

Vault

Hidden Secret Files

Photo Umbrella

FileMaster

iDiscrete

HIDE

Picture safe

Private photo

Album lock

My Media

 

Snapchat

Snapchat is a fun little app, there is no doubt. Many parents I know use it exactly the way it was intended, for amusement. The issue is still the same, if there is a way to abuse something, we as human beings will determine what that is and exploit it! Thus the issue with our children. Naked pictures, under the guise of anonymity that can be captured, saved and shared. Scary.

Yik Yak

Another social site that offers discreet chatting with locals in your area. Unfortunately from what I have witnessed many times it is sexually explicit and self-deprecating. There are comments made in reference to teens that are demeaning and hurtful. Another opportunity for those who remain unethical to berate others from behind a hidden wall.

Of course there are the standard sites that everyone visits such as Facebook, Instagram, twitter, Tumblr etc.. Some would say these sites allow our children to be more social to a broader section of society and to some extent that is true. They still need our daily supervision as it is easy for them to post or repost an item they might find harmless but in reality could be detrimental to someone else or themselves. As I remind our children on a regular basis, once it’s (whatever you post) out there on the internet there is not taking it back. It is there forever, for all to see. It becomes your electronic legacy.

So as I drop the kids off and ask them to have a nice day, I smile and wink. They tell me they love me and run off to school. The high schooler who is sans-phone for not turning it in at night again grumpily gets out of the car, reminds me what time to get him and then slowly gives me a sly smile and says; see ya!

He walks away and I wonder, besides all the other advice I hope he remembers will he appreciate this struggle we went through together? Will he be thankful we diverted him at every chance he had to derail?

I don’t know, but I do know this, no computer or application can give you the feeling I had the first time a girls said yes to going out with me. Nothing can replace that first time holding hands or the very first kiss. Nothing replaces a nervous heartbeat, the smell of perfume or watching the sunset together with her head on your shoulder. And nothing feels like the world does when the sun comes up in that certain place on the road that gets me every time firing my brain into overdrive allowing me to feel alive.

Hopefully one day my children will understand that without looking it up on their phone.

4/14/16 addendum

Tonight after reading my blog, my teenage son came into the dining room and sat down. Calmly and with the maturity of an adult, he asked if I would please stop writing about him on my blog. He felt I portrayed him in a somewhat negative light and he didn’t want people to think badly of him. I have never been more proud of the way he handled himself and the conversation that ensued.

So let me add this, it has never been my intention to show any of my children in a negative light.  Only to share with other parents that we all are in the same boat! I am saddened that I have hurt his feelings. He is an amazingly funny, warm and generous young man. I am overwhelmingly proud of who and what he is becoming as he spreads his wings and there are numerous others who care for him as if he were their own.  My use of him came naturally as he is the only teenage reference to date in my household. His offenses are minor in nature even though at times they bring forward major topics of discussion.  I will honor his request and cease to use him as a basis for my writings because I love him and respect his wishes.

~Betty~

 

 

 

YOU….

As of late there has been a long enduring power struggle taking place within our home. It seems our 15 year old has taken it upon himself to follow in his father’s footsteps despite my best attempts to thwart his actions. To say I am disheartened would be an understatement.

My mother once told me at the height of my rebellious, disrespectful path that she hoped I had children and they were all J U S T L I K E M EEEE! Thankfully that didn’t happen, yet the one that is like me, JUST LIKE ME has embraced my persona of old with full-fledged gusto.

I once had a teacher in high school, I believe she was my French/English teacher who at the end of my junior year grabbed me, pulled me in close and with a quiet voice asked me a question that’s stuck with me for 33 years.

What are you going to do when your looks are gone?

That’s all she said, then with a smile wished me a good summer and went about her business. No explanation, no further words of wisdom, just that, a wink and into the classroom she vanished.

Now it wasn’t that I was a particularly great looking kid, I was average at best. But that damn question would pop into my head out of nowhere and it haunted me from senior year and beyond. 

What are you going to do when your looks are gone?

Why would she say that to me? What was its purpose? Was it a joke? It took many years with it rolling around my head when one afternoon while pondering the good old days I figured out exactly what Ms. Kaplan meant.

It really had more to do with my personality than anything. About buckling down and putting myself and my future first! I treated everything as a joke. I still do to this day but on a much smaller scale as life has honed my ability to recognize the importance in certain situations. Take an average kid who likes to be the center of attention, make everyone laugh at all costs and who is willing to go along with just about any plan that may arise to ensure I was someone’s friend and well you had me. You also had a gigantic recipe for disaster.

Late for class? Who cares, I am with my friends. Disrupting class, oh well I made everyone laugh, who cares that I missed todays assignments and disrespected my teacher. I’ll apologize with an honest smile on my face and a caring tone in my voice. It will all smooth over, it always does. Sent to the office for cutting class? A twinkle in my eye, some cool charm and I will get out of it. Trust me.

Ms. Kaplan saw this in me. She never bought any of my bullshit and there was rarely a time when one of my sly patented smiles ever got me anything other than a smile in return.

And so here we are. Today I asked my son the very same question.

What are you going to do when your looks are gone?

For you see unlike myself, my 15 year old is a very good looking kid (got it from his mother). He has a million dollar smile and has learned to use it to his advantage. But he is struggling ethically and scholastically. He disrupts class to be the center of attention, does anything, anytime, anywhere to make someone laugh, and has a very strong sense of who he is and what he wants to become. So needless to say when I posed Ms. Kaplan’s question to him he merely stared off into the distance not knowing what to say.

He looked just like me.

I explained the importance of this question and what it ultimately meant to me. I explained that for the most part these people he is trying to impress will be long gone from his life 5 years from now. I tried my best in showing him the importance of working hard now for a later reward. That all his dreams of participating in college rodeo are rapidly slipping away as he chooses his in the moment friends first, making them laugh while slacking on his responsibilities and rarely living up to his word. I even explained that saying no to your friends sometimes is ok and if they get mad or don’t want to be friends anymore because you are chasing you’re dreams that’s ok as well! The hardest thing to explain or get him to understand was that a few of my closest friends are the ones who understand when I’m busy, care about my dreams as I care about theirs and at one point or another before we became good friends we may have even told each other to Fuck off at some point. Respect was earned and friendships arose from the ashes. It is ok!

We only want the best for our kids, parenting hopefully through learning from our own mistakes, but one sentence spoken through echoes of my past brought it all home, and it hurt.

It hurts because I don’t want to see him fail yet his stubbornness is strong (yeah that one’s mine). It hurts because if he keeps going he is going to land hard and that will hurt him, although that may be exactly what it takes. It hurts because we love him as we love all our children.

A repeated theme came from our discussion and I thought I would share.

YOU

Only YOU can make a difference in YOUR outcome

YOU are the only one in charge of YOU no one else

YOU are the only one who can chase YOUR dreams

YOU have the power to say no

YOU are the only one responsible for YOUR grades

YOU are the only one responsible for YOUR homework

YOU are in charge of YOUR emotions, no one else

If YOU need help then YOU need to ask

YOU should rely on YOU to complete tasks, if you receive help fantastic but make sure it’s YOU that determines if they are complete

YOUR word is really all that YOU have that explains who and what YOU are

Only YOU can hate and only YOU can love

YOU need to remember we love you always

And YOU were a gift from God, don’t waste that gift.

All of this came from one child struggling to find YOU in himself and one English/French teacher who haunts my past.

Thank you Ms. Kaplan If you touched me this way from so long ago, I can only imagine how many you touched during your career.

And all of this insightfulness was because of YOU.

 

 

 

 

Pythagorean Theorem=Boobs????

Over the years my wife and I have spent countless hours helping our children to succeed through both word and deed.

It takes no shortage of creativity, knowledge, a sense of humor and occasionally some good old-fashioned ass kicking to solidly seat things into our children’s thick know it all skulls.

A week ago a new low had been reached in our household, the bottom if you will. All was going reasonably well, homework becoming finalized before an upcoming work week, and yes I can hear a collaborative parental moan now: why wasn’t the homework done Friday night? No excuses, no answer other than it is just the way we roll here at the BCR (Black Cloud Ranch) if it isn’t last minute well then it wasn’t worth doing!

One of our boys, oh hell why beat around the bush; it was the fourteen year old! Anyways he just doesn’t seem to grasp the importance of Algebra! Seriously Algebra! Algebra is the very basis for all math we will NEVER EVER USE AGAIN IN OUR ENTIRE LIVES!!! It might as well be stinking cursive! Who the bloody hell uses cursive or ever thought cursive was so freaking imperative? Isn’t Cursive like the Beta video of language expression? Oh sure I have seen many hybrid versions, you know a mix of block lettering, plain print and cursive. But really in the end it is as useful as a chocolate tea-pot!

Algebra was the very bane of my existence as a freshman in high school, and it appears to be a genetic learning disorder! Yet Jake has one glaring ace in his pocket for which he refuses to take advantage that I never had at my disposal! His mother teaches math! I know right? Mom teaches math! HELLLLOOOOOOO????? You say you don’t understand math, ask your mother politely for assistance and well, 1+1=uh an easy freaking A! But no, Jake stands before his mother, arms crossed as though he was in the center of a Law and Order episode awaiting his lawyer! This boy, this hard-headed, rodeo driven boy, has been given a free ride for way too long based upon his dimples and charm, yet at home his mother and I see the poop thrower from three years of age. His dimples purchase no currency at the parental store of effort and trust. Mom continues teaching, Jake continues fighting the process. My teeth are grinding and my inner voice hears our beloved dentist God Bless her soul telling me to let it go before irreparable damage is done!

Finally after many witty and not so witty exchanges take place mom has hit the wall, this lad has more excuses for why he cannot learn the Pythagorean Theorem than a desert has sand! Who doesn’t understand the relation of lengths in three sides of any right triangle! Right? RIGHT! Ah Duh!!!! (Ok truth be told I didn’t know what it was either until this fight, but hey enough about my adult ignorance!) Yet a no learning wall is up, affixed, complete with eye rolls, heavy sighs, and the occasional slack-jawed look of stupidity.

This entire process of enlightenment and denial was finally broken when my wife, teacher of equations and mentor with wit, creator of interesting theory and conclusions nonchalantly threw out a reference as to the design of her latest mathematical problem looking a tad bit like boobs! Yes you heard me right BOOBS! Brought forward in that casual oh look what I accidentally drew they resemble BOOBS, kinda way! Every teen boys dream! Men and women alike can agree that BOOBS are pretty freaking cool! Right? Hey I won’t lie, I looked! She said BOOBS for Christ’s sake!!! But instead of a chuckle, juvenile laugh or smirk our sense of humors, no matter how imperfect for the moment (seemingly appropriate I might add) were greeted with teenage loaded snide sarcasm and cynicism!

NICE! Now I am not referencing “NICE” in relation too, eyebrows wiggling, crooked grin, hey there look at that or creepy stalker nice; oh nooooo. This was a thoroughly disgusted, grossed out, want to vomit because my mom referenced a girls private parts “nice”.

What the hell! Its boob’s son, no matter how big or small all girls have them! Even some men! How in the hell can you treat it as though it is a dirty word? BOOOOOOOBBBBBSSSSSSS! See rolls off the tongue! Remember when we had the sex education talk and we made you say PENIS, PENIS, PENIS- VAGINA, VAGINA, VAGINA? You thought that was a freaking riot! Red cheeks and all! So what gives? Wait is this because you think we are automatically referring to you moms boobs? Well heaven forbid your mom, a WOMAN has boobs! Or is it because you cannot stand looking at boobs in front of your mom? Well then we have done something wrong if you are ashamed of the female body and all its glorious shapes, curves and dimensions in front of another woman! What is it? No son of mine is going to ramble on with some form of weird embarrassment over a hand drawn set of circles that look conspicuously enough like a set of boobs! (+)(+)

Then it dawned on us, he saw two circles, we saw two circles, he still remained steadfast in his attempt to thwart any assistance given by his mother, his mother remained steadfast in breaking down that wall. Hence forth two circles that once were nothing more than an equal equation in a math problem became the nucleus for an excuse. By acting as though we had stained his little eyes, burned an unwanted image into his brain, leaving him to die upon the sword of our humor amidst an assumed embarrassment. He believed homework time would be over, a byproduct of our apologies for such inappropriate behavior on our parts. Crying at the table, head in our hands, relished to failure as parents for our poor lack of judgment, he could leave the table thusly going about his evening bypassing another painful night of math while feeling as though he finally got the upper hand!

Hmmmm in retrospect, quick thinking young grasshopper! I am impressed at how fast you grabbed ahold of an opportunity to exploit a situation hoping for instant benefit and gratification… In many instances this quick thinking may have brought forward a prosperous outcome. This would not be one of them!

BOOBS, BOOBS, BOOBS (+)(+) Do you see them???? BOOBS, BOOBS, BOOBS!!!!!

Now do your damn homework!

 

 

So you want to become a dad?

This holiday season our family has been surrounded by our dearest family and friends. During this festive spectacular there has been ample time for Betty to ponder the meaning of or too my life.  Now we all know there are many theories in regards to the meaning of life, and each one of us has a different feeling about how life relates to us as individuals. One such couple who I care about immensely has left me befuddled, challenged, and as though there is a damned up reservoir of advice for which I should be sharing. But also with the knowledge opening these flood gates to soon would unnecessarily drown them both.

These two love birds are about to jump off the relationship cliff by getting married. Hurray! We are seriously so happy for them both!!!!

But a topic continually arises in regards to the more domestic side of two lovers joined at the hip. CHILDREN! Should they procreate? Shouldn’t they? How many little genetic markers should they raise? Can they handle the unpredictable, emotional strains friends say children may bring to their lives? Would they even make good parents?

Then the question that always precedes the sigh of frustration; If you were to do it all over again would you still have had children?

First and foremost because they are worried about a future with children shows they care and is definitely a GREAT sign! So many children are brought into this world with no plan, no understanding of the responsibility, and no real physical or emotional commitment.  Many times children are born with the best of intentions, until one or both parents hits their first giant wall of emotion without the ability to seek out help or ask for assistance. Then everyone in the family suffers.

This future husband is a caring kind-hearted man with a spectacular sense of humor who values family. He is so worried about this one aspect (children) of the upcoming relationship solidification, and I personally find it to be sweet.

It dawned on me that no man should have to have to worry this much! No one explained parenthood to me other than to say it will happen if I didn’t provide protection! I was only given the generic description of events to come, as in late nights, no sleep, no friends, poopy diapers etc! After our nuptials were completed grief from every family member we ever encountered in regards to when we were going to have our own little clones was all we received! Not one conversation started with general pleasantries or curiosity into how marriage may or may not have changed our lives, oh no! Every talking point was always the repeated squealing of a broken record; when ya gonna have kids (skip) when ya gonna have kids? (skip) when ya gonna have kids? (skip)

Sad….

So after 3 years of writing this little blog, trying my hardest to share a Fathers side of marriage and raising children, it is time to help a fellow brother out! Give him some cred and lift him up! Let him know it is ok to wonder, it is ok to be scared, and I am here for him when ever he needs me. How am I going to help this man you ask? Well how nice of you to ask! By explaining what being a parent IS and what it IS NOT! Of course this is purely from this fathers perspective. (there might be a few marriage tie inns as well)

WHAT BEING A FATHER IS NOT

Glamorous; No matter how anyone tries to sell parenthood there is nothing glamorous about being a dad.  There are no Ward Cleaver moments, Eight really is enough, The Brady Bunched things up for you and its open season on Partridges! Things are quite simply never tied up in a neat little bow in under 20 minutes and 9 times out 10 you can’t fix everything with a hug. You will never be able too juggle your job, after school activities, dirty diapers, runny noses, and the occasional vomit then expect to come home slide ever so carelessly into a $5000.00 dollar tuxedo, expect the misses to look like a Bond girl ready for the taking while you fire up the Aston Martin for a night at the Casino. Martini’s shaken, not stirred!

Easy: Don’t ever believe for one moment you have it all figured out, because if you do, it hurts twice as hard once you realize you don’t! Parenting is hard work, every single second of it is hard! Rewarding, but hard! You can’t just turn parenting off, set it down and go shoot hoops with the guys down the street! Throwing your child in a locked room while you watch Monday night football with the boys down at Hooters is also out of the question! Just because you taped a daycare placard upon the closet door doesn’t make it so!  I know you think the kid will be fine, rooms dark, he should sleep and wont even know you are gone right? NO! BAD, BAD, BAD! It’s not even an option moron! From late nights rocking junior to sleep,(that’s right buddy its your job as well as the wife’s) to cleaning everything, fixing scraped knees, doing homework, forcing yourself to actually become smarter than a fifth grader (yeah you will quickly learn your degree don’t mean shit). Parent teacher conferences, rashes, sickness, crazy questions, arguments, sleepless nights, bratty friends, good friends, snobby parents, caring parents, children’s sports, children’s obnoxious sport parents and so on, and so on, and so on… There will be days you will feel so numb from exhaustion you may find yourself at the park napping on a concrete bench only to be mistaken for a homeless man.

Scheduled: If you are a person who lives and dies by your calendar you are doomed my friend! Who needs everything to fit in a nice neat little box of time or emotion anyways right? You will fail and its ok! Toddlers don’t run on a clock trust me! You can have nap time at the same time everyday, but it doesn’t mean you will get that entire block to yourself! And it only gets worse as they get older! Between school and sports you will re-learn the importance of HAVING a calendar while ignoring the time boundaries for which that very same calendars foundation is formed! Layman’s terms? -LEARN TO GO WITH THE FLOW MAN!

Sanitary: In the early days you will clean more strange, smelly substances than an Emergency room orderly! Heck some days you may even have a touch of something spewed, sneezed or wiped, stuck directly to your clothes! (Hopefully your James Bond Tux has a great dry cleaner)There will even be a time when you notice people have begun standing a bit away from you during conversation. Now while you are understandably perplexed by this newly found distance, wondering if it’s a coincidence or not, trust me when I say it is you!

Don’t worry about those people anymore,anyways, because after a while you will stop caring! Also you will quit looking over your shoulders, sleeves or sniffing your clothes for baby remnants! It just wont matter! Around the three to six month phase you will stop caring about the fact you are wearing the same clothes day after day, and the smell of every possible baby stench in the world will no longer resonates within your sniffer! Nope you are now a true entrenched father! 5 O’clock shadow, JC Penny sweats, disheveled hair and all. It is a disgusting badge of honor, it is the first step to never having a real wardrobe again and it will in the end bring a certain peace to your egotastic vanity; so wear it proudly.

Without conflict: You and your spouse will fight over the stupidest things! I know she folds the towels all wrong and refuses to turn off the bathroom light! But believe me the fights will reach a new level of stupidity! Rivaling a group of ten-year old boys engaging in verbal judo on the ball field! Yes you two are best friends, the two amigos, this is your best bud, your party girl, the woman who drinks beer one night like the boys then classes it up in a knock out dress while caressing a glass of wine the next!  But put a bun in that oven and all bets are off! Her body morphs faster than a Decepticon, her opinions change by the minute, her maternal instincts take over, the baby begins sucking the life out of her and blam! Your ship of freedom has sailed! You being the stubborn man you are continue searching for your lost buddy with boobs, your amigo, your sex with my best friend high-five afterwards partner in crime! But guess what pally? That ship has sailed! Blame it on exhaustion, brooding, misunderstandings, low blood sugar, what ever! Having a child will test the very meddle that is your relationship!She is still there, trust me, and you will find a whole new beauty to the woman you love, but get ready to shed your former life. I know it sounds bad right now, but it is so worth it in the end.

There will also be times where your parenting is nowhere near on the same page, when the two of you will become ships in the night, passing casually from time to time with nothing more than a horn for bellowing at each other. You will feel at times disconnected from one another. It sucks! It really sucks but it is the way it is! You can put each other first, put the children first, do what ever it takes or do nothing at all, but you will need to figure out how to raise this child together and you will need to work on your relationship all the time! If you don’t, you will suffer and so will your children. There will also be conflict as your children become teenagers. It’s what I call “poking the bear”and you better be ready! Oh they start poking the bear early on, challenging your parental authority, your patience, your mental acuity and your ability to recover. But it really hits hard once that nasty angry, hormone raging, puberty comes around. I have found over time that anger and yelling is definitely not the answer when dealing with this teenage metamorphosis. Staying firm and direct always wins when dealing with untamed emotions! Teaching your children to have a good sense of humor about their minor transgressions is also a good thing. There is an old saying I have plagiarized for years; He who yells first looses.  They can be absolutely disrespectful little shits that you want to beat within an inch of their lives as venom spews from their massive unrestricted pies holes. But staying calm while talking with a very firm almost terrifying tone wins each and every time. Once things have settled down, talking about what they were trying to accomplish also helps their young minds expand and become one with a future in adulthood.  Teenagers have wild emotional swings that are really not their fault, if we as parents can remain calm both parties win.

WHAT A BEING A FATHER IS

Humbling: I don’t care how tough you think you are, how many bullets you took in a gangland rumble, shrapnel from Afghanistan, bucking broncs you rode at NFR, Harley s you’ve built, Bulls you wrestled! MMA fighter, Doctor, scientist, Police Officer, Fireman, Garbage man, banker or lawyer.  I don’t care if you are this years Nobel Peace Prize recipient! The moment you hold a child, your child for the very first time, unless you are a piece of shit heartless bastard it will bring you to tears. Look into the face of that little wrinkled, pale, writhing, shaking life that now depends on you. That’s right buddy this human is a part of YOU! A baby’s cooing will make even the strongest mans knees buckle. That emotion never changes either. I cried just as hard as the day he was born on the day he left for college, you see in my eyes this one child had taken everything there was to give and now off into the world he went. I was spent, I was proud, I was filled with love, I was humbled by what God had entrusted me and my wife with. A life…

Full of mistakes: Hey big shot guess what? You are not perfect! Sure you scored four touch downs in a single high school game, went to college on scholarship, dated the homecoming queen, and now own the most successful flooring business in the tri-state area! Being a father is all about making mistakes and you sir are going to make them whether you like it or not! You are going to make huge, gigantic and at times what feels like irreversible mistakes! SO WHAT!!!! Do you know what separates the good dads from the bad ones? The ability to recognize those mistakes and act accordingly! Everything you have accomplished in life to this point doesn’t mean shit! You are now the CEO of a new company!  Corporations have merged creating a new entity and you need to give this start-up 100%! These people we bring into this world learn by watching and they are watching from the very minute they are born. If you act like an ass don’t question why your kid acts like an ass! If you treat people like shit expect the very same in return as they grow older. If you continually show compassion, empathy, creativity, solid ethics and an ability to communicate effectively you, your wife, and your children will all win! You wont always be perfect at it, but winners you will become. I have said this before many times but learning to say you’re sorry when you are wrong, sometimes even when you don’t feel as though you should apologize and your child will grow doing exactly the same. Being a dad is about setting a good example, but that example is not set by being perfect. It is set by being perfectly honest with yourself.

Rewarding: For every twenty set backs to your selfish life. (of course you didn’t know you were selfish until you had kids and your wife points it out to you. Over and over and over again) There are those moments. Moments that will stay with you forever. Moments that stir emotions within a man suppressed by modern-day society. Moments like the first time I saw my child walk on his own. Or when they draw you a picture and write; daddy I love you on it. When they climb in bed with you in the middle of the night or laugh at your impressions while reading a story. The first time they ride a bike, or sing on stage and to you looks like Travis Pastrana jumping buses or sounds like angels harmonizing in heaven. A solo with the clarinet, your daughter who was terrified riding a horse, now doing so with perfection and loving it! Letting them catch-all the fish on a day trip or helping them tie their shoes. It’s all the little things that make up the day. Its remembering not to let your shitty day fall upon their tiny shoulders because their hearts are so big they will gladly carry that burden for you without even knowing they are doing it. Coloring, legos, playing on the swing-set or jumping on the trampoline with them. Camping, smores and scary ghost stories. Watching them grow and evolve, change shape and voice tone. I once came across an old voice mail as we were changing out the system in my firehouse. It was my 14-year-old when he was 8. The sound of his little voice politely asking my voice mail for his dad to answer the phone please had me bawling like a baby. I hadn’t realized just how much this child had transitioned to almost man status until I heard the lost squeaky voice of his prepubescent age. It is still getting a hug and an; I love you dad, after they’ve turned 18. For all the freedoms given up, conquests never taken,  and selfish time disappeared there isn’t a moment I would trade, a second I would change or give up, for five minutes of being surrounded and loved by my children.

To my friend, I hope this helps your decision, I hope it made you laugh and puts you at ease.

If Love conquers all… Loving your children is the greatest reward.

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

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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…

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#dads, #stayathomedads,#sharinglife

I may be a parental failure.

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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……

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