What horses taught me..

jake and blaze

What horses taught me about myself and raising children?

Horses have always at one time or another been a part of my life.  During a very long period I did my best to refuse any knowledge of i-phone pics 002their existence.  Carefully placing walls up around my feelings, hoping to keep them hidden for eternity.  When people would broach the subject, my lips were sealed, if someone in the room asked: have you ever owned horses? My moral character would never allow me to lie in regards to the subject, but my explanation was usually short and sweet;

My parents owned horses; I was raised on a working horse ranch complete with 15 stall barn, paddocks, hot walker, roping arena and cattle chutes.  We had a trainer for a while and the business always seemed to be the root of my parents quarreling.  Dad was the president of a local horseman’s association and although at the time horses were not my favorite animals, some of my fondest memories were hanging out at horse shows, eating hamburgers and playing under the grandstands.  The monthly meetings were also on my fond memories list.  The people my parents associated with were all wonderful and cared about everyone’s kids! We sat at the bar, drank 7-up with cherries in them and overlooked the valley below.  Can I ride a horse? Yes. Do I want horses? No! End of discussion.

What I never realized until just recently was raising horses as a child set me up for success as an adult.  Learning to care for these creatures on a daily basis was actually the first step in learning to care for myself and others.  I know it sounds crazy but it also allowed me the opportunity to fail miserably without actually harming imagesCAJ72HWVanyone, as my parents were right there to chastise, redirect and place me back on the proper course with each and every animal regardless of how much I bucked the system.  Horses are very forgiving animals, if you are late feeding them they won’t complain, missed cleaning their stall that afternoon, not a word said, didn’t get to riding them, they will let you know the first couple of minutes in the arena but it’s nothing a little re-direction won’t fix and after a pet or two on the head all is right with the world.

So how did horses re-enter my life and what does it have to do with raising children?

mom and dadMarried with children; horses re-entered my life under the guise of being for the children.  I was pulled back into the equine world kicking and screaming by a wife wise beyond her years when it came to dealing with my absolute stubbornness.  As I ranted and raved about reliving my parents quarreling over money and animals, as I clenched my fists and retorted with barbs about horses being the devil and all who possess them are crazy! My wife calmly reminded me it wasn’t about me, it wasn’t about the anger I harbored towards an existence that was a lifetime ago brought about by a mind not fully developed but mired in the process of youth.  I regaled the horror of taking care of animals and how I didn’t want my children hurt, trampled, kicked, bit or thrown from these four legged beasts.  My projectswife would remind me our children were already taking care of animal projects for 4-H and this was just an extension of those duties.  Before long my grip on the past loosened, the mental walls were knocked down and we became horse owners.  My children began riding, my wife began riding, I returned to the saddle and our future in the horse world was set on a collision course with my past.

the familyJake and Haley

Today; all of my children ride horses, one not as much as the other three but he enjoys cleaning stalls and helping out when he can. Our children are not left to sit on the sidelines as we were all those years ago.

cody They ride and they ride fairly well; they make mistakes, learn from those mistakes and look forward to every chance they get to “show” their horses. Do I expect them to win? No! Am I proud of them whether they do well or not? Yes! It will be some of the very best memories ever retained and upon my death bed, as my eyes begin to close and darkness overtakes me I hope to picture these children of mine smiling having fun, still small able to fit in my arms, full of love for their animals and their father.  

cassieI ride a cutting horse; as my parents rode in shows, I too am in the  ring doing my best.  We belong to an association and I became a board member.  Cutting is always on my mind! How to become better, how to make my horse better, how to just relax and get the hell out of my horses way because she actually knows what she’s doing and on several occasions really just doesn’t need my help.  Either way I am obsessed and cannot wait until the show season starts again.

My wife rides any horse she can get her hands on.  The challenge of a new horse along with the exhilaration that comes from an unknown is always on her mind.  Her personal horse is a blazegigantic Belgian draft who is sweet and believes to be a puppy dog.  She follows you around everywhere, wanting to do everything to make you proud of her. She loves being pet, brushed and ridden, we couldn’t have asked for a better animal for our family. We have made friends with some very wonderful people through this the girlsprocess, friends I believe we will have for life.  These fantastic people are of the very same character surrounding me as a child.  My children are reaping the benefits.

We have many horses; we board a few horses, and have built up a very nice place for our children to be raised and their friends to come play.  Nothing brings a greater joy to my wife and I then introducing a child to the joys of riding horses!

With time/age comes wisdom and with that wisdom comes the uncontrollable urge to share.  So here are ten things horses have taught me about myself and raising children.

  1. Frustration manifests into anger and there is no place for either when training a horse or raising a child.
  2. Forgiveness is felt and received by both children and horses. If you show forgiveness, you teach forgiveness. Then forgiveness is shown in return.
  3. Trust is earned.  You may not think you need to earn trust with your children but you would be dead wrong. The same goes for a horse. If a horse doesn’t trust you, your relationship is dead in the water.
  4. Having the ability to express love is one of the most important attributes human beings hold.  Show that love in every aspect of what you do.
  5. Discipline must be fair, just and repeated the same each and every time.  Then it should be followed by number 4, thus reaffirming your commitment.
  6. Talking will always calm their nerves.  A nervous animal can be dangerous, so can quite a few children I have known over the years.  Talking with them, showing interest and care usually will bring nervousness to an end allowing them both to build a confidence that will expand with age.
  7. What you put in their bodies will equate to what you receive in performance. If you expect your horses to perform, feed them well.  If you expect your children to perform well, both educationally and athletically, make sure they have nutritious food at their disposal.
  8. Give them a warm safe place to call home.  Everyone, even animals need a safe place to call home. It builds security and confidence, and grounds both animals and humans alike.
  9. When children or horses make a mistake. Forgive them, correct them and allow them the opportunity to get it right.  We all make mistakes; treating either one as though you are perfect all the time will eventually lead you down a path of failure.
  10. Keep them clean and groomed.  It sounds silly but as your child feels good about a new outfit for school, so does your horse feel about being clean, brushed and prepared for a day of being worked or ridden on the trail.  It’s in our make up to always want to look good.  You always notice that gorgeous stallion with the long flowing mane and tail, so does a mare. You also always notice the kid you took the time and effort to dress appropriately.  Make that your kid and your horse.

As you can see my life has come full circle.  My children take care of family rideanimals, feeding, watering, riding, and showing them love. It’s not always done right, but they try, we redirect and success is always on the horizon. The lessons of my childhood, expanded upon and being re-taught to my unsuspecting little sponges! Hopefully when they are grown adults our children will continue to expand upon these lessons and not place them in a closet of emotion wasting years on anger that could have been used to further enjoy a platform we have provided them for life.

 my kids

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A hunting we will go…..

 

SSSSSHHHHHHHHHH! Be very, very quiet……. I’m hunting (you fill in the animal here)!

Pull up your boot straps, put on your best camouflage, sight in your rifle and fill up your camel back! We are going hunting boys! That’s right 2 days two nights of hiking, scouting, hiking, climbing, hiking, crawling through the brush quietly, hiking, doing a lot of praying, and last but not least did I mention all the hiking!

Its deer season and my son wants’ nothing more than to bag one of California’s finest mule deer! He’s read the reports, checked on the weather and sighted in his rifle.  He has painstakingly watched every episode of any and all deer hunting associated shows on television and believes he’s ready for a serious case of “buck fever”!

“Buck Fever” noun

Nervous excitement felt by a novice hunter at the sight of game.

Yep he wants to feel buck fever bad and as his father I can’t help but sit back and reflect upon my childhood.  All the wonderful memories flooding back like it was yesterday! Seeing the want to fulfill another step towards manhood in a Neanderthal, me man, I provide sort of way is so emotionally moving.  Holding a rifle, staring down the sight tube at your intended victim, knowing there will be food on the table tonight! You need to be man enough, steady enough, and calm enough to lay down that one shot, the only shot you’ll get before that buck runs for the hills!  Ah the pressure, the excitement, the anticipation!

One problem…

I have never hunted deer.  I have hunted pigs; I have spent more than my fair amount of time and a considerable amount of money fishing.  But my youth retains no memories of ever going out into the woods to hunt deer.  The memories I hold revolve around horses, sheep, 4-H and working on our ranch! I have never felt the longing for hiking endless hours in the woods hoping to find one deer, all alone just waiting for me to kill it!  In fact every time I think of hunting deer, it’s not the prospect of delicious venison that awaits me, or the thought of a giant rack hanging on my wall as some form of testosterone filled pride for all to see.  Quite the contrary! I go to a much darker place when thinking about hunting deer.  A place so dark and foreboding that even the strongest willed man would not survive there without shedding a tear or feeling his soul shake to the very core!

For you see when it comes to hunting deer the message is crystal clear and has been for every man, woman and child since; August 13, 1942!

DON’T GO INTO THE MEADOW!!!!

The movie Bambi has held a polarizing grip upon all of our heart strings for 70 freaking years! If you think for one second you can sit there professing how you didn’t cry when Bambi’s mom died at the hands of the hunter! Then I can sit here and call you a fat faced liar!!! Every person I know cried like a baby when Bambi’s mom was shot! The sound of a rifle firing, any rifle firing flashes me back to that very moment when it was assumed she had been killed.  Like a bad case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder the images are all too real! As full grown adults our stomachs get tied up in knots while watching Bambi with our children for the first time because we know! We know she is gonna die and we know that a very detailed explanation of life and death are going to proceed after the hysteria and Kleenex party is over! But what message did Bambi send us self centered human beings? What has Bambi’s legacy taught us all?

Bambi taught us all about respecting nature! Bambi also taught us that animals like humans have families who depend upon them for love and guidance.  Bambi allowed us all to glimpse into the life of a fledgling young buck.  From the joys of birth with birds singing all around to the struggles of a young lad making friends in a new somewhat rough neighborhood! Bambi taught us that it doesn’t matter what kind of animal you are, we can all be friends! It also taught us about the emotional toll taken on a young boy who has just lost his mom! But best of all (this one was a real shocker for yours truly) did you know all animals can speak English? It’s true! Oh they hide behind their wiggling noses, and teeth grinding grass burning jaws, but don’t let that blank stare fool you! They can communicate and will not hesitate to do so the minute your back is turned!  But even with all these revelations about the animal community, one thing remains true! Bambi gave us the lesson of a lifetime! You see; by going into the meadow you will die! Simple as that! Step one foot into the meadow, any meadow and meet your fate at the hands of a plaid wearing, gun toting fool who will kill anything on site!  Lesson well learned Mr. Disney, lesson well learned!

As humans we are supposed to love all creatures big and small no matter how tasty they may be smothered in mushrooms, onions-garlic and barbecue sauce!  No sir, we must all wake up, putting away our blood lust, welcoming all forms of vegetation for nourishment like the great Brontosaurus or Giraffe!  For you see a plant doesn’t hurt, a plant doesn’t feel, if you cut the plant does it cry? If you shoot the tree does it bleed? Plants don’t have families curled up sleeping with them out in the open or like the rabbit live in a fully furnished five bedroom hole in the ground complete with kitchen and dining room table! The message is clear, share the earth with all things great and small but don’t eat them.

So by following Disney’s obvious wisdom and not wanting to offend the spirit of the late great Walt Disney himself, how then do I support my son and his venture with a clear conscience? How do I let my son walk into the wild, hide in some trees, then kill some poor Buck, some deer’s husband, some little deer’s father who happened to wander out into the meadow? How? How I ask you?

I know, I’ll pretend we are a family of T-Rex’s. Problem solved! Even Walt Disney can’t look down from heaven and fault us for that!

 

P.S. No vegetarians were harmed in the writing of this post.  Being a vegetarian is a choice and as with all choices made in life to be respected.  Eggplant for everyone!!!!

An American oxymoron…

 

My 13 year old asked me the other day while watching Top Gear, a television show that originated in the UK and has grown to a spin off in the United States.

Dad; what is the difference between a GMC truck and a Chevrolet truck?

Sitting back in my chair, realizing this was a moment where I could lay waste to any positive view he may hold towards these vehicles with a short idiotic tirade, I gathered my thoughts leaned down, put my arm around him and using my best Ward Cleaver laid this little number upon his unsuspecting bewildered eyes.

Ahhhh-hemmmm!

(Clearing my throat, using my best grandpa jones old man inflection)

The difference between them son is symbolic of the widening indifference in our countries mental acuity.  You see when our country was young, led by intelligent, strong willed, dedicated individuals we as a country knew the difference between right or wrong. A child could play in the street without fear, a woman was revered by men, a mom was considered the, be all end all of every child, and your house was your home, not a temporary storage area until you moved again hoping to make an extra buck.  Community meant that everyone cared about their town and participated in its growth.  You didn’t just live there to commute somewhere else without a care in the world about your neighbors or their well being.

The difference clearly rested in a country becoming accepting of all races and religions without prejudice.  Remembering we are all products of family members who immigrated here and just because we are third or fourth generation doesn’t mean we hold some inalienable right over others trying to achieve the same dreams. Yet that is exactly what we continue to do and every race and ethnicity is as guilty as the next when it comes to this process. Our country started with the ability to parent each other’s children without fear of retribution, living under the guise of “it takes a village”.  Education was a number one priority and teachers were revered for success afforded them through flexibility not unattainable federal guidance. Teachers are taught to “have the power” and “Show students the way” yet due to spineless administrators and frivolous lawsuits our children have all the power backed by parents wanting an education for their children but refusing to back any teachers play when it comes to their precious heathens.

Oh yes son the difference is clear as daylight! For you see in this country we have allowed so many to abuse the legal system for so long that a citizen of the United States is now considered guilty until proven innocent. Prisoners have all the rights and citizens have little to no protection from the criminals.  Our police forces have been told to uphold the law using the iron fist of justice, yet the iron fist has been reduced to cheap tin and is now tied behind every officers back leaving them unable to complete any given task or have the appropriate authority to do so.

In god we trust is upon every dollar yet church and state has been cited as a conflict of moral/ethical principal. The difference is right in front of your face son. Hold the door for a woman today and you are oppressing her right to equality, don’t hold the door and you are rude self centered man. Rape and abuse are the center of every television drama, glorified for all to see which seems to be an oxymoron in a civilized society.  The real housewives of any city USA are a ratings boom feeding these women millions of dollars. As American women we should be ashamed of these poor excuses for humans yet we glorify their shallow self centered struggles. Meet any woman who behaves as they do in real life (not reality TV) and she is instantly a trash talked bitch cut from the pack and left to obscurity.

What is the difference? ah yes, everyone gets a trophy when playing sports and no one loses; because if we have all winners that means someone will feel bad about losing, possibly stunting their ability to feel good about themselves in the future.  It also means that no one person will know what it feels like to truly succeed at something through failure, there bye over time eliminating the need to perform and win from our genetic make-up.

Our society is told to go outside and live life daily, these directions come from the confines of a television we paid way too much money for because its quality is so good you actually feel as though you are there, thusly preventing you from actually being outside. The difference is complaining about the rain while sniveling about the sun, whining about the heat while crying about how cold it has become!

The differences are right in front of you, you are bombarded with them every day.   WE (Americans) choose what we believe in as individuals, then we stick to it come hell or high water! Its what makes us great as a society, but its also what may in fact lead to our downfall.

In reality there are no real differences, a tweak here a few horsepower there, but essentially the very same truck. Over the last 100 years “we the people” have become so blinded by the Hollywood glow of some that lead, so ethically corrupted by misled faith, disenchanted with reality, bought off by envy and the American advertising machine that handles everything from a bar of soap to the Presidency, that “we the people” actually believe  there is a tangible difference between a GMC and a Chevy truck.

If you don’t think other countries aren’t laughing at our pig headed stupidity then drive down to your local Honda/Acura-Nissan/Infinity- Toyota/Lexus dealers and see who is having the last laugh at your expense..

Oh yeah, by the way son the GMC truck is waayyyy better than a piece of junk Chevy truck any day! Duh!  Stupid Chevy owners…

 

 

Olympic Bound..

Watching the 2012 London Olympics over the last 12 days has left me in athletic awe! How I yearn for a challenge of that magnitude,  to focus mind, body and soul on one sporting activity, rise to the challenge, overcome insurmountable obstacles to be the very best that I can become!

Yes it is true, like many young people around the world I have decided to become an Olympian! To feel the thunderous roar of an adoring crowd, performing at the peak of my physical prowess, standing atop an Olympic podium while our National Anthem plays and I (being the great Olympian I am)do my best to lip sync the words knowing that someone at home can tell I have no idea what the hell they are! Yes, YES I want to be that guy!! (Thunderous applause)

Sadly, there is one little problem with my dream, a small issue really but a problem none the less.  I am 45 years old and last I checked there weren’t too many athletes at 45 breaking ANY world records! Oh sure I run most days (3-5 miles), work out constantly in the gym,and eat (somewhat)right, yet near a 4 minute mile I am not! In fact I don’t believe there to be anyone currently cresting the precipice of senior citizenship dominating the track and field ranks! Not one person of age flowing effortlessly without the aid of Ben-Gay or a walker traversing a gymnastics canvas! Not one person that can be referred to as “sir” or “ma’m”  swimming at dolphin like speed or rowing sculls with the ease of a 5 horse power outboard! So what‘s a guy like me to do? All these dreams, hopes, aspirations bottled up inside ready to explode upon the scene? What to do, WHAT TO DO?????

ANSWER:

I will “do” as any red-blooded American father would; I will impose my wishes upon my children!  Disguise their efforts as being “what they want”!  Twist their little minds and stress their little bodies fulfilling my dreams not theirs! Propping them up high on a pedestal of half-truths with statements like; you are the best, no one can perform like you, daddy loves you even when you fail (lie), oh and remember we are doing all of this just for you!  Yeah that’s the ticket!

Want to join the swim/dive team? Well then you will swim/dive morning and night everyday all year round eating tofu and drinking tiger’s milk! Up the ladder jump! Onto the starting block, jump! Swim, swim, swim and dive, dive, dive! Honing your craft, building your skill set and slowly becoming a champion! Hee, hee hee!

Gymnastics, wrestling, boxing or trampoline; No problem, hit the gym kid and don’t worry about school, you don’t need friends from the outside, you have us! Gym people are your family now, plus we’ll get you a tutor so training is all you focus on! LOOOOVVEEE YYOOUUU!

Want to be a runner/sprinter? Peeeerrrrrffffeeeecccccttttt…….

Get the hell out of the car right now! Start running! Oh don’t worry, we won’t leave you behind, but if the Australian Runners can train in the desert and those little Kenyan kids can run from village to village out of necessity thusly making the Olympics as young adults; then your sorry little butt can run out of pride! The pride you are going to bring your father when he receives his Olympic passes in 2016 whoop, whoop (tear in my eye)!! That right kid; so shut your pie hole and start running, we have little time and lots of miles and injuries to get through so WE can make it to the national trials! Oh yeah, give me a hug because daddy thinks your number one!

So there it is, my plan is in place! National exposure, our countries pride along with selfless coaching on my part will bring them to the forefront of the Olympic stage! Thereby ultimately allowing me to perform as an Olympian! Genius, pure genius I tell you!!!

They may hate me for a while but once a Gold medal is around my neck; whoops I mean around their neck (wink, wink)it will all be worth it; right? Yes sir look out NBC’s Today show here we come!!

In closing, later tonight we will stand in front of a mirror while developing our signature “thanking Jesus” ritual!

                                To the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat!!!

 

Faces from our past….

They leave behind families who know nothing of how, or why. Often misunderstood they rise to the challenge everyday and wish nothing more than the ability to return home to the country they love. Proud, brave and sometimes terrified, they perform under stress as no other. Some becoming what legends are made of, others lives are changed forever. 

It takes a special person to perform their particular duties and as Americans we should show nothing but respect not only for those who return, but for the fallen as well.  It has often been said that our WWII veterans were the greatest generation.  They sacrificed all for our country.  If those men and women set the standard then I believe all fallen soldiers should be held with the same regard.  None of them wished to perish, none of them woke up one particular morning thinking today is my last day. None of them asked to be subjected to the horrors of war, to losing fellow soldiers and thier friends.   They all knew the job that laid before them.  They all knew the risks associated, and yet each and every one of them stepped forward with honor and integrity, putting aside personal feelings of dread to complete a task for you, for us, for themselves and for our country.

Can you say you would do the same thing?

Wont you join me today as I hang my head and humbly say a prayer to all soldiers lost in many theatres across the world over multiple generations? 

It is after all Memorial day-not national BBQ day.

To all soldiers in every branch of service I say;  Thank you for your service to our country and may God bless you, and your family.

Remember the fallen, respect those who remain. 

Every 15 Minutes

Steam rises from the hood as a faint wail can be heard off in the distance.  Sound is muffled, vision distorted he doesn’t understand the images placed before his eyes.  A kaleidoscope of colors passing through a spiderweb prism is all he can associate.  Looking to his right he finds a pair of shoes.  Not just any shoes but the Sketchers he bought his girlfriend for her 16th birthday.  Why? He wonders.  Why are they there on the seat of my car and how are they standing on their toes.  The improbability of shoes standing on their toes is more than his mind can process.  He shakes his head trying to clear the cobwebs but the alcohol in his system wont let it happen.  So he stares at the pink Sketchers in disbelief.  

The pink Sketchers he bought his girlfriend on her 16th birthday are in fact not standing on their toes.  They are still connected to her feet, feet that lead to her legs, legs that stretch through the windshield of his 2004 Nissan where she lay motionless on the hood. Dying.  The girl he loves is dying on the very hood that steam now rises from while a faint wail can be heard in the distance.

She cant seem to make it stop.  She doesn’t remember taking a nap, but now that she has found peaceful slumber she only wishes for what ever is dripping on her face to quit!  She dreams of water or syrup sliding across her eyes.  Swatting at the sticky substance she is not sure whether its real or part of her warm comfortable dream.  Then she feels it, starting out as a low uncomfortable burning, her dream translates it into fire.  Surrounding her, leaving her trapped yet somehow she knows better, fighting resisting the dream. Her eyes finally opened by the rush of adrenaline surging through her system, brought forward by the searing pain across her face. The sticky substance now identified is blood! She screams then screams again, taking in all the air her lungs will allow.  Her seat is covered in blood, the dashboard is covered in blood, her clothes are covered in blood.  Wait a minute; she thinks to herself.  Calm down and relax; is all she can say.  Her dads voice ringing in her ears for all the times she felt panicked and he calmed her down with those four little words.  Honey just “calm down and relax”.  She remembers getting in the car with her friend, they were headed to a friend’s house for a study group..  Wait her friend! He was driving them! She slowly turns to the left and its then her world is changed forever!

She now knows where the blood is from, oh sure some is from the head wound that burns across her scalp.  But the majority is from him.  He lies motionless against the door pillar, color gone from his face, lips barren and dry, a sandy glaze across the whites of his eyes he breathes no more. Still, lifeless, anything but the laughing energetic young man he was a mere 5 minutes ago.  She screams for him to wake, he doesn’t budge.  She slaps his face praying for a reaction! Anything! Anger and fear rip through her as she comes to realize he will never wake up, never move again, the charming, smart, dorky boy she had known since 5th grade was gone forever. She lays against him crying. Not knowing what to do or where to go, she cries.

The faint wail off in the distance is not a wounded animal, it doesn’t come from a piece of machinery or a child who has just been punished it comes from a shadow, a silhouette, an anomaly spread out on the pavement 25 yards away.  It twitches and writhes this anomaly of disproportion.  The top half in a serious battle with the bottom half. A losing battle from what can be gathered at first sight.  This shadow seems to be swimming on pavement, for it surrounded by liquid.  A red lake that ripples with the breeze it appears to be flowing to the lowest level it can reach.  Moving closer we see the shadow, the anomaly is wearing softball gear.  A bat off to the right a cleat off to the left stuck in the center of what appears to be a childs water-color.  Smeared across hot black asphalt lay various shades of red.  She doesn’t know why she is face down and can’t move her lower half.  She doesn’t understand why she is vomiting non stop. She feels a “fight or flight” reaction that she can’t control.  Like a trapped animal she howls, claws and fights against the chains that bind her to this place.  An abdomen that wont flex, a pair of legs grotesquely deformed, rotated and broken, she fights.  She has fought her whole life against those who said she couldn’t.  She has fought her whole life to achieve her small successes in school , at home and on the field of play, now she fights purely for her life.  She cannot move anymore yet she still fights.. 

He has shaken the cobwebs and moved beyond the pink Sketchers.  Trembling with fear he opens the car door and stands up to survey the origin of steam rising off the front of his car.  He cannot believe what lays before his still blurry eyes.  Two vehicles are heavily damaged, the front end on his car is folded up like a piece of paper, his girlfriend lay on the hood. Bleeding. Unconscious. It appears he has struck another car in the driver’s door.  A portion of the drivers head lays split open on the center post of the car.  It appears another occupant, most likely a female is crying and shaking the driver looking for a response.  As he walks around the front of his car, pulling out his cell phone he see’s a bloody pile of clothing fighting against itself on the street off in the distance.  It also appears to be a female and she has a bat, glove and is missing her shoes??

What has he done?  How did this happen?  It was only minutes ago he was at a party, laughing, drinking and having a good time with his girlfriend.  What is he going to tell his parents?  What is he going to tell her parents?  This can’t be happening he is going to college in 6 weeks!  What does this mean for his future?  It was only a couple of drinks right? He tells himself he is fine and there is no way the cops will ever know..

He makes the call to 911…

Every 15 minutes a person is involved in an alcohol related accident.  This is the premise of the Every 15 Minutes program held at high schools across the country prior to Senior Prom and Graduation.  Every 15 Minutes is a two-day program focusing on high school juniors and seniors.  The program challenges them to think about drinking, driving, personal safety and the responsibility of making the right decisions.  The program also focuses on the impact these choices make on family, friends and the community. 

The story I wrote above was about our scenario today April 26th 2012.  It is an re-enactment or compilation of many accidents I have responded to over the years.  For as the Every 15 Minutes program has an impact on the children and their families. Drinking and driving has an impact on all first responders.  The firefighters, the police officers, the ambulance crews and the hospital personnel who fight for your child or family members life.  People who are advocates for their survival.  These are images I carry with me always.  Images I can’t erase or just forget! People whose lives were changed forever from one poorly made decision. I remember them all and share them with you so you will remember to never get behind the wheel of a car after you have been drinking. 

Dont drink and drive. 

 All pictures are of high school actors who volunteered to help raise awareness to teenage drinking and driving. I am very proud to be a part of the Every 15 Minutes program and the lasting effect it has on our participants, their family members and the audience that witnesses the event.

A Venus De Milo in the making?

 

Parenting is an art, a finely crafted piece of art that is created over a lifetime.  A sculpture to be more precise. In the end you pray that a masterpiece will emerge so you may stand back, dust the particles from your clothing, pat yourself on the back and proclaim with pride to the world; this I have created! 

But lately I feel as though my parenting “tools” are a little dull.  I have taken good care of them mind you.  Giving them a little “tune-up” when needed, sharpening them as appropriate, honing my skills as to not damage the final product.  Yet no matter what I’ve learned from teachers, or the pearls I have gleaned from other befuddled artists (parents), I have hit the wall, I am stuck, my muse is dead and creativity has left the building.

My problem?

My daughter has lost all resemblance of control! I try, and I try but no matter what I do it doesn’t seem to make any difference!  Really! No difference at all.  What is a father to do? How is a mother to cope? There is the right way and the wrong way to handle behavioral issues in todays “touchy feely” society right? In this situation I think it might be time to break a few rules….

It would seem our daughter has taken to being defiant.  Now before you all start giggling and waving your magic parental wands around spreading glitter and good tidings for all us failures to indulge upon. “That was the nice way of you telling me to shut up and get over it, all girls are difficult.”  Let me explain myself.  My daughter has taken to closing her fists, furrowing her brow and dropping to the ground in a spastic fit, complete with waterworks that would make the Hotel Bellagio envious. It doesn’t matter where we are, it could be in the middle of church after asking her to politely sit up and pay attention.  Or in the grocery store around isle number 3. You know isle number 3? The isle with chips, cookies and candy, all of which she is trying to put in the cart.  Today isn’t going exactly as SHE had planned, YOU can’t seem to get her over to her friend’s house after school? Put in the ear plugs sister because the screaming will now ensue! Screaming that would make a deaf person cringe! It reaches a pitch that even dogs run and hide from! She definitely has a career in the movies doing horror scream voice overs! Now mind you we never cave into this screaming. We know it’s about taking her parents hostage, but it sure seems like the easy way out sometimes.

Before I go any further you need to understand, 80% of the time she is a sweet, giving, kind little girl who truly cares about everyone and everything.  A virtual princess.  It’s the other 20% I am concerned about.  I have tried everything, from explaining my rationale, to sitting her on a timeout for screaming over the top of me while I am talking with her.  Placing her inside her room and closing the door for a specified amount of time.  Allowing her to cool off and collect herself  without the pressure of others staring.  Nothing was working.  Scream, scream, scream! So much so on a camping trip we actually thought she sounded like a wounded animal.  Afraid she would draw a hungry creature into our camp we moved her out of the tent and into the trailer!

Is this the answer?

I was sure I had the answer! It was unconventional mind you, not from the standard book of parenting this concept of mine.  But I tried it once and it worked! I was so shocked at the outcome, dismayed by how idiotic and simplistic it was to carry out.  We all sat in wonderment at how something so simple held so much power during a moment of lost control. Not only did it stifle the screaming, but we grew closer as family from this one simple moment. It bonded us together as a unified front against misbehavior across the board.  We all sat slack-jawed in awe as a silence fell upon us after 20 minutes of pure screeching, fingers on the chalk board torture. The others knowing to never ever scream because the same response was inevitable.

Picture six of us in a car traveling through the mountains. The trees, the cool mountain air, deer off in the distance. It is perfect serenity, with the exception of one 6-year-old female screaming at the top of her lungs because she didn’t get something she wanted.  The other three have their ears covered and the littlest is crying.  Mom and I are at wit’s end when I lean over and turn up the radio with my right hand.  My left hand slyly depresses all four buttons allowing the windows to roll down and as if on cue, we all start singing whats on the radio! Singing at the top of our lungs! The louder she screamed the louder we sang! It was off key, it was obnoxious, some of us didn’t know the words! Who cared! We sang loud, we sang proud and we sang as a family! Within about thirty seconds she realized she couldn’t top 5 other voices equally if not greater in decibel than she could produce.  After a while with a few songs so badly butchered she eventually smiled and joined in our little band of misfits! After a couple of songs, silence fell over the vehicle and peace once again returned to our lives with the exception of an occasional giggle. Windows rolled back up, stereo turned back down, life is back to normal.

A problem still remains.

Unfortunately this only works in the car!  When it comes to the store, by the pool, during church, the middle of class or any other moment that silence and order has reigned king the screaming begins. It’s then, this tactic falls flat on its face and here’s why….

She is not seat belted in the car, forced to endure our wildly out of tune crooning.  There is something lost in translation while at the park I lean over my daughter and break into a rendition of “Girls just wanna have fun” from my Pandora 80’s radio station!  The louder I sing the more deranged I look to anyone passing by which leads to other passing children screaming “stranger danger, stranger danger”then running away! While singing at the top of my lungs during a screaming fit, I am instantly deemed “that dad” by the other moms in the vicinity. This leads to unwanted pointing and under the breath mumbling when ever I walk by during after school pick-up.  After singing at least two songs, people start to think we are sidewalk artists and throw dollar bills at our feet! Although this does pad my beer fund it leaves me feeling a fraud, for even a penny is just sheer pity for the caterwauling that comes from my pipes.  Out in the open the father is easy prey for the hungry child, even though the father is far more cunning from experience the child knows that sheer youth will outlast the will of the elderly.  

I know this is a phase she will transition out of, and yes it is embarrassing when it happens.  I am sure it is just as embarrassing for her as it is for us as her parents. It always leaves you feeling like a “bad” parent, who must have done something horribly wrong to have a child behave in this fashion.  But in the end she is just testing our will, giving us a “run for our money”, hoping to find the limits then push beyond them just a bit, developing herself in the process. 

The sculpting continues….

Who taught you to drive??

RANT ALERT, RANT ALERT, RANT ALERT, RANT ALERT, RANT ALERT

Oh yeah ladies and gentlemen its time for Betty to bust out the pain! Lay down the smack! Bring up the blazingly obvious that all of you notice, bitch and complain about to yourselves but never to anyone else!

Drivers Licence Mayhem

As far as I know if you own a driver’s licence in the great United States of America then it means you passed a test allowing you to hold said licence.  Correct?????  It means that when you decided it was time to obtain these valued credentials you studied, went to drivers education classes, partook in valuable drive time on both freeways and surface streets with a certified instructor? Right????  Last but not least, like the rest of us valid card holding members of the united front of commuters you sweated buckets while a DMV representative sat alongside you, with a clip board in hand, guiding you through a designated course, determining if you had the ability/talent allowing you behind the wheel of your current 3400 pound bucket of rust! Didnt you??

Yet with all that being clearly stated why on earth do you lack the ability to safely merge onto the freeway?  At what point and time in all those hours of behind the wheel training did anyone ever show you how to pull all the way down the on ramp at elementary school zone speeds to then stop, look over your shoulder and pray for an opening you can squeeze into from 0-75 mph? With your Prius! It’s not going to happen! Unless you own a Lamborghini Gallardo and are a very talented driver you are not going to make this move without serious consequences!

Of course it must run in the family because this morning I met your cousin Captain Oblivious!  You know Captain Oblivious don’t you?  Yeah, he’s the one that comes down the on ramp at freeway speed and never looks over his shoulder!  Stereo up loud, hands at the ten and two position, head faced straight forward!  Tractor Trailer? He don’t care! Giant 4×4? Better get out-of-the-way! He coming down that ramp like a skateboard to hell and there’s nothing you can do about it! He figures you will move out of fear!  Apparently he missed the chapter about safely “merging”!  Under the definition of “merge” it must read Merge: to ram large object into small or non-existent space without repercussion. The rest of us missed that chapter of the book but not you Captain Oblivious! Not you!

Of course my rant wouldn’t be complete without a visit from out other traffic family member!  Flat floored Fred!  You see Fred enjoys driving really fast! Fred runs the stops signs with the skill and grace of even the best California stop artist! Fred can’t help himself as he moves between lanes like a skilled race car driver.  Drafting off a Lincoln, cutting the front of a Ford and pushing his way into position at the next stop light all so he gets the jump on you the moment it turns green! But Flat floored Fred has a serious flaw. Dont put him in the fast lane on the freeway!  We have all seen him at his best! He darts down the on ramp at full throttle, smoke billowing from his 1993 Cutlass Supreme! He is coming fast, faster, faster than BAM! Across three lanes like Steve freaking McQueen! That car settles into the fast lane looking strong and stealthy until suddenly the anchor falls out of the trunk! Now Flat floored Fred shows his true side, its 55mph.  Yep he’ll break every intown speed limit all damn day long but get him on the freeway and suddenly we are driving Ms. Daisy!  Heres a hint for Flat floored Fred.  If everyone (and I do mean EVERYONE) is passing you from all three of the right hand lanes.  Get out of the fast lane!!! You are just frustrating everyone! They all want to kill you!  That is defintley not the “your number one” sign they’re flashing you!!!!

And what the heck is up with roundabouts?  These little freaks of roadway nature are nothing more than an excuse for most people to see how fast thier cars can go while drifting!  No kidding! They may work in Europe to ease traffic congestion but here in the states they are just an invitation for the Red Bull Drifting series to have try outs! They are perfect! How many times can I go around this thing sideways, smoking the tires and blocking all others from entering into the circle of trust?  You know whats an even better idea? Place the round abouts right next to high schools!  Yep thats the ticket! Then the teenagers can all pretend to be Tanner Foust! Its pure genious!

Man I feel better! Its true purging is good for the soul!

Now piss off all of you before large 4×4 guy with dents in his truck loses his temper and shows you the bumper of the Betty mobile!

Versatile Blogger Award

I haven’t had an orthodox career, and I’ve wanted more than anything to have your respect. The first time I didn’t feel it, but this time I feel it, and I can’t deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me!”

You really like me………

I have been nominated for the Personal Blogger Award by Vanessa Chapman http://vanessa-chapman.com 

This is an award bloggers award to each other as a way of showing appreciation for the blogs they enjoy. I am humbled and honored.

(I plagiarized the rules from Vanessa as I feel there is no reason to re-invent the wheel.)

The rules for accepting this award are as follows:

1. Thank the award-givers and link back to them in your post. Easy-Done

2. Share 7 things about yourself. Ok hope I don’t scare anyone, but easy-done.

3. Pass this award along to 15 other bloggers. Fail! Only could nominate 13! 😦

4. Contact your chosen bloggers to let them know about the award. Will let them know as soon as I’ve posted this

Seven things about myself;

  1. I am 45 years old and I can’t wait for retirement. When I refer to retirement it is not in the sense of me walking away from a career, gold watch in hand to sit on some god forsaken island, smoking pot until I die.  On the contrary, I cant wait to start the second half of my life.  To re-invent myself and live life twice.  I have had a stellar first half, the second half can only get better.
  2. I can walk into a burning building, rescue people from a crushed or damaged vehicle, repel off a 5 story building with confidence and walk under a ladder without fear of superstitious reprisal.  But I cannot, and I mean no way, no how can I stand being in the proximity of a spider.  Those eight legged little freaks get me every time.  You want to hear a full-grown 200 pound man jump and scream like a 6th grade school girl then toss a black widow my direction.
  3. My ability to tell the dimensions of something from sight are frustratingly astounding.  Spatial relations are my thing and I am borderline “rainman” about it.  Have a picture to hang, I can tell you one side is off 1/2 inch any direction just by looking at it.  Just had your new bookshelves installed, I am the guy who within 20 seconds of being in the room knows exactly where the carpenter “cheated” or “shorted” you on material.  It makes me crazy and it makes my friends crazy as well.
  4. Scary movies are stupid and a waste of time.  I laugh through them which annoys everyone.  I can tell exactly what is going to happen when it is going to happen. 
  5. 1950’s pin-up girls are awesome.  You can have your skinny, anorexic, vegan, boney butt tooth picks.  I like my women with natural curves, and clothing that leaves something to the imagination. 
  6. When I was 10/11 while walking up my long driveway (we lived in the country) a car pulled up with a creepy guy in it who asked me if I wanted a ride.  Then told me to get in the damn car. He had one hand on the wheel and one in his trousers.  Thank god I had enough sense to run.  I still have nightmares about that guy even at 45. 
  7. I am terrified I will fail as a father.  I put up a good front, but deep down inside I always feel as though failure is right around the corner.  It’s why I write this blog.  It allows me to laugh, vent, and share my experiences.  I can look back on it when I am feeling low and remind myself of all the good I have done with my children.  I know they will laugh looking back on all this as adults.

15 bloggers to pass this award along too.

Soshi-Tech- http://soshitech.com

More valuable information in one blog than should legally be allowed in the states of California and Utah.  Everyone else is OK!

A Detailed House- http://adetailedhouse.com

I love houses and the fine art of decorating them in some of the finest trim.  If you are a closet design geek such as myself who also thinks you can take on any project, than this is the blog for you. The photography is very well done also.

Raising a Realist- http://raisingarealist.com

Scott is a mild-mannered high school English teacher. This blog is his attempt to capture all of his daughters moments.  As a parent of four, I can relate with his tag line. “126 kids but only one will wipe my but when I am old”

Mayahood- http://mayahoodblog.com

Adventure seeker, world traveler turned mother.  She has a mixture of her views on motherhood along with guest posts.  It is an entertaining blog.

Bucket List Publications- http://lesleycarter.wordpress.com

This one is near and dear to me as it is a blog that completely follows the premiss of getting out there and doing all those things you keep putting off.  They even pick some of your bucket list suggestions and through donations make it happen for you.  It’s quite the premise and I enjoy reading it immensely

A Confederacy of Spinsters- http://confederacyofspinsters.com

This is one of my favorites!  Three women from Texas, each one taking a turn writing about life trials and tribulations all under pseudo names.  Grace, Mae and Kate.  Its is always witty, relevant and fun!  I look forward to new postings they way one waits at the window for a long-awaited package from UPS. 

Musings of a stay at home Jewish Father- http://stayathometatte.wordpress.com

Another blog dedicated to a male role model at home raising his child.  Its funny and real with great pictures as he chronicles the day-to-day life of a stay at home dad.

In My Opinion- http://diane-ownes.com

Diane is on a quest to ask a different, relevant question everyday for a year. Interesting concept and I find the answers entertaining.

Debut Dad- http://debutdad.wordpress.com

Brenden is a first time dad who lives in Australia.  He blogs about juggling the changes in his life with the birth of their first-born child. Good luck Brenden and keep em coming. 

Vanessa Chapman- http://vanessa-chapman.com

Vanessa nominated my blog,  and although she is already nominated I enjoy her blog and look forward to every new edition she puts forth.  From superstition to the purchase of a new pair of boots.  She is funny and I find her blog to be a good way to blow a little time at work! Ha!

365 trinkets- http://365trinkets.wordpress.com

This blog is a reminder of how much crap we accumulate as adults.  His mission? To get rid of 365 trinkets he has stored as treasured keepsakes over a 25 year period.  The blog revolves around taking pictures of each one (for memories sake) then getting rid of said item. 

maggiemaeijustsaythis- http://maggiemaeijustsaythis.wordpress.com

A blog dedicated to writing poetry and personal trials and tribulations.  I enjoy the freedom with which she expresses herself.

Take a shower- http://takeashower.wordpress.com

A blog about Eloise and the raising of her five children.  She writes about the past and present, reflecting on the moments in time with the raising of her five children.

I am sorry to say I only have 13 to nominate for this award.  I fail!  But the thirteen I have chosen I follow with great intent.  I enjoy many other blogs but they are new to my collection and I havent gotten the chance to know them well enough yet for a nomination. 

Vanessa you were right, I also anguished over my choices.

Reminiscing about my first car..

My oldest is almost sixteen, although that may be of concern to some parents for me it brings a sense of excitement and joy. The other day we ventured into the DMV so he could take a shot at passing his driver’s license written exam. I am proud to say he is now behind the wheel of any car we allow him drive. My son handles the pressure of driving a vehicle with incredible confidence. He remains calm and relaxed, very aware of his surroundings and for a new driver relatively smooth on the accelerator. The complete opposite of myself at his age. I was nervous. Terrified really, it scared the hell out of me driving down the roadway. I must have looked like a triathelete crossing the finish line when I finally drove on the freeway! Sweat pouring down my face, shirt soaked in perspiration! 55 mph seemed as though we were traveling at light speed! All those vehicles around me while moving fast, I swear looking out the windshield was like peering out the front of the Millenium Falcon at warp factor one! While we are on the subject of reported space junk, I was always relegated to driving my mothers 1972 Pontiac station wagon. Yuck! Major cool points lost! I prayed everyday that none of my friends saw me in that chocolate-brown hunk of poo with wood siding!

Yet my son doesn’t seem to care. Mini-van or truck, scooter or explorer it means nothing to him. As long as it has a steering wheel and motor he’s willing to drive. I don’t know if that means I had higher standards as a kid or he just enjoys the thought of driving so much he doesnt care. I really wanted to drive too! I started daydreaming about it when I was thirteen. I would spend endless hours on a Saturday just sitting behind the wheel of my dads 1963 GMC truck pretending to drive. I would close my eyes and see myself steering through town, waving at my friends, all while applying the clutch and shifting gears. My dream car was a 1966 Chevy Chevelle. Second runner-up was a 1968 Chevy half ton stepside truck. I dreamt about them, prayed I would own one. I knew exactly what they would look like, from color paint, rims, interior and stereo systems to where I would park them in the high school parking lot. I had it all figured out.

So what went wrong? Why doesn’t my son seem to care the way I did? Why doesn’t he have the same love for cars ? Why are his expectations so low? He has no answer to any of my questions when I ask him.

In my day your car was a rite of passage, a step into manhood, it defined who you were as a young male. Today no one seems to care. His friends don’t care! When I pick him up at the high school there isn’t one nice custom car/truck in the parking lot. Even the little Honda’s are bone stock! What the hell!

Anyway I wrote this a while back in regards to a piece about your first vehicle. I entered it and it was chosen as one of the final stories. The whole reason I looked it up and am posting it to my blog is simple. I am left pondering. Will my children have the same memories of their first vehicles as I did? Or have those days gone the way of cruising and eight tracks? Gone forever, replaced by video games and techno geeks?

Anyways here it is….

My Freedom

The day I brought it home I had no way of knowing the effect it would have on my life so many years later. This machine of dreams made of steel, fabric, glass and wood. It was green and had the smell of old vinyl which hit you hard as you opened the door. The body lines curved, rolled and seemed to run on with no end. The glass was large and bulbous, when you sat inside you felt as though you were a fish looking out at the world from a mobile aquarium. There wasn’t much chrome on this metal masterpiece and that was the way I liked it. Anyone could have a flashy ride with a little money and some elbow grease, but it took someone with confidence and grit to pull off the industrialized look that it held when your eyes fell upon its shadowy form.

My 1964 Chevrolet stepside had a three on the tree with a 289 V8 that rumbled at idle. The gas tank was right behind the seat, which left a hint of petrol wafting through the cab on a warm summers day. Right next to the fuel cell I had carefully mounted a motorized windshield wiper container, which I had filled with whiskey. There was small tubing running under the rubber flooring towards my glove box. When you opened the glove box there were three cup rings where whiskey was dispensed through a small metal wiper fluid nozzle into your waiting glass. The entire thing was wired to a marine switch which ironically in today’s age of not drinking and driving was located next to the ignition.

I loved this truck! I hardly slept at night waiting for the morning, just so I could drive it somewhere, anywhere! I made up excuses to run errands for friends or family just so I could be behind the wheel. It rode rough, had a steering wheel the size of a manhole cover, no air conditioning, and drum brakes that didn’t stop worth a darn. It was primitive, but I loved it! Whenever I see one drive by I am flooded with memories of first dates, parties with my friends, drag racing at the end of the boulevard (yes we still cruised back then) and loading up with my closest buddies then traveling where ever and whenever we felt like it.

You see this was my first truck, my first car, rolled into one. It was the epitome of teenage masculinity, my identity, my solace. It opened the door to freedom from my shuttered world and behind its closed doors it held all the secrets of our journeys together.

Maybe he shouldnt have memories of a first vehicle after all. Sounds like trouble waiting to happen. A Honda civic will do nicely thank you….