Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Life Imitates Art of War

This post will show the way my head works; I find obvious and obscure correlations and connections between things. Much like my parenting tips as Sports Analogies post (which were obvious), I like to find ways to relate anything to anything else. It is one of my strengths as a Special Education teacher, and I like to see the wheels begin to turn as skillA relates to activityB. It is also what made me an above-average used car salesman (yeah, I was one once).

I was thinking about roles of those in authority and how we as parents teach these roles to our kids. One way or another (it took me a while, and I don't really remember how) I started thinking about military tactics and parenting tactics. Then I began thinking about the different roles soldiers play in war, and how it relates to the type of parenting we do at times. The following list is what I came up with:

BOMBER PILOT: Heavy-handed disciplinarian, when you're around.  Your kids know your name, but refer to you as The Hammer.  You swoop in at the end of the day to dole out punishments with harsh precision because the ground forces (see GRUNTS) called for reinforcements.  May be the style of the executive parent, or you will see this in a single-income home.  "Wait 'til your father/mother gets home."

BUFFALO SOLDIER: Parents who succeed despite everything. Socio-economic status, community environment, single parent, divorce, traumatic event, etc do now deter this parent from giving their child ALL they can. They are the exception to the rule, and do not conform to the statistics. Their child may be the first in their family to go to college.

ENTRENCHED SOLDIER: Stuck in a stalemate. Unable to see what's coming. Unwilling to give ground. Shooting blindly at issues that do not relate to what their kids are dealing with. Feel as if they are going nowhere, but are afraid to try something new.

GRUNTS: Put in the hard work of parenthood. They are the first to get up and have everything ready in the morning, and the last to sleep at night once everyone is fed, clean, and happy. Some Stay-At-Home parents may feel like this, or like they are trying to take the beach at Normandy every morning. ;-)

KAMIKAZEE PILOTS: Parents who seem to sacrifice their own life and happiness to be parents. Abandon all for the title and status of parent. They forget personal hobbies, or interests, and their whole identity becomes that of So-and-So's parent.

THE SABOTEUR: Parents who either knowingly or unwittingly undermine their child's ability to be successful. A parent who is an enabler. Some kids who receive special education services may not have internal disabilities, but disabling parents.

THE SNIPER: A master of working behind the scenes. They recognize possible issues before they arise, plan to have themselves in a position to have it in their sights, and deals with the issue quickly so that it doesn't grow out of proportion, or seem like an issue at all.

TUSKEGEE AIRMEN: when a child has an extended household devote to their success through life. This may be actual family members assuming partial responsibility of raising the kids, or friends and community members making sure all kids show respect and are safe.

So, this is what came out of my head. Are there any I missed?


Monday, March 28, 2011

Memory Lane

This is an old post I found from my old blog.  It's about 2 years old.  Nostalgic:

It amazes me when I look back at the days when I had a “little” baby that would cozy on my chest…
Camo sleeping on daddy
She used to be the sweetest most innocent thing and she was a little doll. However, she is has grown into a feisty little toddler, that already acts like she runs the show.
Ropes Course 003
She has become this little ball of personality and highs and lows. She goes from extreme happiness to hearing the words “nite nite” or “nap time” and suddenly her world crumbles around her. We had a brief stint where she tried to throw temper tantrums and she soon found out that they would not be dealt with and found herself alone yelling at no one, and those seem to have gone as as as they came. Though she still says not to nap time, she still walks herself to her bed and lays down.
Now, when she tries to come and share our bed in the lazy weekend mornings, I get kicked out of my spot, and my pillow becomes her pillow. She has her opinion and will let you know it. She is defiant to fault, but she keeps me on my toes, and I don’t ant to take that away from her. We want her to question the norms and not do what everyone else is doing, and we want her to be able to do her own thing and not care about anyone else. As she continues to grow, I can only hope to have a little girl that will try and fail and be honest in failures so she can learn to succeed.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Need for Emotional Health

Even though my wife may see it differently, I am the dad I am because of the failing of my own dads (step-dad and bio-dad).  I will touch on this from time to time.  What I want to talk about is something that has shaped the way I relate to everyone, especially my kids.    

For lack of a better term, I'll describe the household I grew up in as dramatic.  My mom was dramatic.  My older brother was dramatic.  If my sister was dramatic, I didn't notice because I thought that was normal.  Maybe dramatic is not the right word.  So I will describe the situation and I'll let you tell me how the environment was.  

As the youngest, in a household that was ordered by a literal chain of command, I was careful to try not to make rub anyone the wrong way.  There were individuals in my household who I had to gauge which mood they were in before continuing to enter their proximity or engaging them.  When they were upset, I was just a fly on the wall.  When they were in a good mood, I would hope that it would last so I wouldn't end up subjected to the whims of mood-swings.  I learned to listen to how things were said to read people's moods; word choice, and what became issues and what they let slide.  I watched body language to see how they were feeling; repetitive motions, signs of exhaustion, or frustration. 

As a private in this military family, I HAD TO follow orders of my older siblings.  I could not say no, or I would be subject to Court Marshall; getting beat up or something.  The buck stopped on me.  There was nowhere else for it to go.  I saw how someone else would get yelled at, and it would only be a matter of time (usually minutes) before that anger was thrown at me.  I would most likely get berated for something that had nothing to do with me.  I noticed as consequences did not match the crimes committed.  It felt like I was often put on Death Row for running a red light.

What kind of relationships does this dynamic create?  Unhealthy ones.  In me, I learned to shut out my own family.  The words that they said, no longer had any real meaning anymore.  I was subjected to verbal bashings, but at a young age, what I thought was not letting them bother me was actually internalizing it.  Since I never dealt with what I was told I was (selfish, nothing, lazy, etc...), it creeps up every now and again.  I squashed any reactions I may have had to teasing and prodding when I learned that it was the reaction that was the goal.  In other words, I stopped showing anger, or anything.  Even now I don't like to be angry, because I think it takes me back to being a little kid who has no control over anything. 
In others, they learned to let their emotional whims take them wherever they pleased because they had me to make them feel better.  Whether that was ranting and venting at/on me, forcing me to go joyriding in the family truck, even though I didn't want to, so they wouldn't be in trouble alone, or waking me up in the middle of the night to yell at me to do tasks and chores at 3 in the morning.  I shut down and became a drone, and they were enabled to become narcissistic.  

What has been the lasting effect?  I am diligently guarded, and closed to almost anyone.  In instances that should be very emotional, I am not; I don't know how to be.  Both years in high school when my football team lost in the playoffs, my friends and teammates were brought to tears, especially our senior year.  I was not.  I was detached from the feelings and the emotions of the game.  Nothing at funerals. Nothing at tragedy.  I understand what emotions others are feeling, and what I should feel, but I just don't feel it.  I get wildly uncomfortable when anyone outside of my wife starts getting to close to me.  She has cracked this shell, but I don't know if I can open up to anyone else. 

As a dad, I am conscious to never address my kids in my own frustrations, anger, tantrums, etc... I do my best to act out emotional responses for her to see how her actions have an effect on others, but I don't do anything brashly, or without thinking.  At least, I don't think I do.  But I DO know that I do not yell at either kids in anger.  I have a loud voice when I need it, and I use it as an attention grabber, and not as a punishment.  My only worry is will I be able to teach my kids to be emotionally healthy when I don't think that I am?  

I know I am able to let my kids know what to expect when they see me.  I am never gonna snap at them.  They will hear me yell only to be heard over noise, or the get their attention when safety is a factor.  Consequences have more of a lasting effect when delivered calmly as a natural effect of their actions.  

Sometimes I feel like I want to open up to a couple close friends, I just... can't do it.  


Sports Analogy Parenting Tips

I do my best to stay away from stereotypes.  Whether it's from being a young Black male, or a jock, I do what i can to not fit into the social norms and molds that we (even me) expect when we see someone such as myself.  I LOVE sports, but I'm not a sports nut.  I enjoy the strategy and tactical decisions made on gameday.  I also love to compete, and it doesn't matter whether I win or lose, but I will not always lose.  ;-)

I was thinking about some ways that dads are better at parenting, but i thought that would be alienating because there's some moms, and some family members who might slap me when they see me again.  I was going to turn it into a post about the changing roles of the Modern Dad, and how we handle certain situations, but I thought that would make me seem like I was trying too hard.   So I finally settled on doing some parenting tips in the form of sports analogies.  If you get lost in my "logic" or how I make the connection, I can't help you, because I haven't had enough coffee to be fully coherent yet.  So here it goes:

Parenting Tips as Sports Analogies:
  1.  Learn from mistakes and move on.  Every Sunday and Monday night we watch as quarterback after quarterback after [Hasselback] throws an interception, and screws up the momentum and flow that your team was on.  Maybe they even ruined a scoring opportunity and threw an interception in the endzone, or it was picked off and run back for 6 the other way.  Regardless of the reason, that QB has to get back out there again and NOT make that same mistake.  There are no counseling sessions, there's not interventions, there's not "we need to talk" moments with him and his coach; there isn't time.  With kids we need to learn from the mistake, quickly, and move on from it.  
  2. "Real-food" poopy diapers are NOT bonding moments.  The way I see it, if a NASCAR driver can have all four tires changed, and be refueled as quick as they do, then I should be able to change these human-crimes-in-diapers while holding a single breath.  Now, when they are little and breastfeeding and the poop is not bad smelling, and they are learning how to recognize you, then that's a GREAT bonding opportunity.  However, when they start eating real foods, and their poop now smells like $h!t, it's time to get it, change it up, and get out!  At this age, all the OTHER moments are for bonding.  
  3. The Head Coach doesn't coach alone.  No matter who the coach is, he is only as good as his assistants.  I don't want to get caught up in gender roles, but I've seen what happens to college programs and families when the head coach leaves the institution.  Don James (my favorite college coach, EVER) left the University of Washington (he was old and retired), and his assistant tried to fill in, and the program is still recovering from it.  I have had many heart-to-heart talks with kids growing up without their head coach, and it's a sad and unfortunate situation for those kids.  Maybe it's a head coach trying to coach without his assistant; that still doesn't work.  It may take a village to raise a child, but it takes a full coaching staff to create a winning program. 
  4. Study your scouting reports.  Watch your kids.  See what they like.  Give them dilemmas and see what decisions they make.  Watch what they watch.  Dance how they dance.  Joke how they joke... kind of.  I was never nervous about the opposing team because I knew what they would do in certain situations.  Get to know your kids early so that when they are out as teens, you know what their tendencies will be, and you know how they will handle situations that will arise.  
  5. The WWE is FAKE!  But while your kids are young, they should think they are winning, or beating you up for real.  Taking down giants, and the "strongest daddy in the world" builds confidence.  I win some, and I lose some, but she has fun, because it's all entertaining for her.  I don't want her to never try or think she knows I will always win.  What will that teach them?
I hope you enjoyed the list.  What else could I add to it?  Comment below!


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wordless Wednesday 22March11

Here's some pics from the other day when the whole fam was playing around.  The Wife has the better "camera eye" so she's taking these beauties.

BamBam does what he can to keep up with Pebbles

Never a doubt that she is mine

A calm moment

Some hugs can NEVER be too tight!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Moment of Self-Awareness

I've been known to be funny.  I have developed my sarcasm.  I ignore my introverted-ness at times.  I exploit my Alpha-Dog within.  I hide my inner Geek (sometimes).  I stomp out the urges to yell.  I still don't understand emotions (mine or others').  I know how those who don't know me may categorize me upon seeing me, and it intrigues me.  I used to go to the store in baggy hooded sweats and have headphones in my ear without any music playing just to hear what people say when they think you can't hear them.  I love mirrored sunglasses.  The behavior of people intrigues me; that's why I do what I do for work.  

I don;t think there's a way to translate the behaviorist side of myself into this blog.  My sense of humor is passive-aggressive, sarcastic, subtle, inappropriate, and just mean sometimes.  But how does someone bounce back and forth from mommy-issues to a vacuum they enjoy, to manhood, to anger-management, to his little princess, to his son, to race issues, to techie concerns, to special Education developments, to whatever and still maintain a captive audience?  

If I've learned anything from no one, it's that anyone can teach you something at any moment.  

I have had a great response to some of my more"inspired" posts, and I think that the pressure I felt to do some equally deep follow-up posts was self-imposed.  Yes, I want to discuss some heavier issues in my life, but I am not a deep, touchy-feely, cum-by-yah, "everyone's a winner" kind of person.  I am, in fact a fairly simple person... or at least I think I am.  My own philosophy is that if you have to tell people you are something, then you are not it.  If you were, then people would know that.  But is that the case when it comes to an online persona?

Am I doing the Modern Dad a disservice by trying to stick to one niche?  since today's dads are "EVERY-MEN", who am I to try and stick myself into a box?  My own Twitter profile explains the many sides of me thus far: Ex College Athlete, Husband, Dad, Geek, Special Education teacher... Just trying my best.  But that still scratches my surface.  I am a diapering/greco-roman-style baby wrestler.  I am a battlefield medic, ordering the able troop (Peables) to go retrieve supplies while helping a downed soldier tend to his wounds (poop and a diaper rash).  I am the strongest-weakest, fastest-slowest, best-worst wrestler/dancer ever as I balance being the strongest dad ever with getting beaten up by my kids.  I have Love-Amnesia: I get annoyed at little things my wife does, but I'm so happy to see her when we're home that I forget, and she's just perfect.  I am a dormant volcano of a has-been athlete that I have to calm myself from going too hard too fast when I get a chance to compete.  I am a pushover of a disciplinarian.  I am the head, and I show examples of how to follow, and how to lose.  I can nap while my kids are jumping all over me.  I am an educator of modern-mythologies (comics). 

I am a dad.  I am a modern dad.  

I am everything my pack needs me to be. 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

My Vacuum SUCKS!!!

Bagless? HEPA? Canister? Upright? Cyclone? Dyson?  
There's a LOT of vacuum terminology out there, and if you haven't figured it out yet, YES this is a vacuum review!   
I am not a stranger to vacuuming.  As the youngest of many, I was often helping the older ones with all the household chores until they graduated and I got toe privilege of doing ALL of them.  I am not a stranger to vacuums, and my wife did not teach me how t use it.  With children who are always on the floor, you want the big non-edibles to be out of the way.  The Wife and i took some time to pick out our old vacuum, which was good and lasted us several years.  We looked at warranties, durability, price, and the brand's reputation.  We settled on a bag-less Dirt Devil back in 2005 with a 3 year warranty. 

Since  then, there's definitely been a shift in how some items are marketed.  Women are not the ONLY Stay-At-Home parent anymore, and household roles have shifted from women doing all the cleaning.  There is a company that noticed this, and made this as their vacuum's commercial:

LG, a company that makes decent flat panel TVs, mediocre phones, and just about every other consumer electronic has just made a new customer for vacuums... of all things.  But aside from the cool commercial what does the vacuum ACTUALLY OFFER???

I want to point out a couple things:
1) The Kompressor Squidgy!!!
          This feature is the #1 thing that sold me on getting this vacuum versus any other vacuum.  I have emptied vacuum bags, and canisters for decades, and the cloud of dust and lint is a headache whenever you have to empty it.  It gets to the point where I have to empty the vacuum canister out in the garage, and hold my breath as I try to knock of a filthy filter and put it back into place.  This Kompressor squidgy lets you empty your vacuum into ANY garbage can without a mushroom cloud of dust and debri. The picture on the right is what happens when you empty this vacuum!   When I saw that, I was sold!!!  

2) Triple Sucking Power!!
          After we ordered this vacuum, we were diligent in vacuuming our house on a regular basis.  We did this especially in our bedroom and closet because it was not a high-traffic area, and we'd be able to test out just how different the vacuum was from our current Dirt Devil.  As you can see in the picture on the right, the LG cleans a LOT deeper into the carpets than our Dirt Devil. 

3)  Clean you can feel!
          When you turn this vacuum on, it will feel as if is has suctioned itself to the floor.  You can feel it cleaning deeper and deeper into the floors.  It is nice, because you can feel it cleaning, and you can tell once you're done, because it does not smell like you vacuumed, it just smells clean.  It has a closed filtration system, so you don't have that vacuum exhaust that smells like hot dust.  Once we cleaned the house with the LG Kompressor, it was just clean.  The carpets were actually CLEAN and not surface-brushed. 

Now, the vacuum is on the heavy  side of most vacuums, but 22 pounds is not heavy.  Besides, it is easier to carry up and down stairs because of the placement of the handle (right above the center of gravity) makes it easy to lift. 

If I had an actual review score for products, I would give this a 9.7 out of 10 for vacuums.  We found the best deal on it through Amazon.com, and have been happy with it from the first moment we turned it on. 

Now, anyone can make fun of me as much as they want for making a post like this about a vacuum, but I paid less than $300 (including shipping for a vacuum that s the quality of an $800 Dyson. 

So... MY VACUUM SUCKS...  does yours?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Thirsty Thursday: Ode to COFFEE!

I almost feel guilty every morning.  It feels like I'm enjoying something I know I shouldn't be doing.  It's like taking some candy from the open bins in the grocery store as a kid; It might be stealing, but the candy is just so good.  It's like making out with your girlfriend in her parents house.  It's the first drink of coffee in the morning, and it's like having a chance to taste a lightning bolt from Zeus' hand.

If you are not a friend of mine on Facebook, then you may not know about how much coffee I enjoy on a regular basis.  The amount I drink is not consistent; some days I may have a cup or two, and other days I measure by the number of pots.  One may think I have an addiction, but there may be a day or two where I won't drink any, and I won't notice.  I wouldn't say that I can't make it through the day without coffee, I would say that I want those comforting, jolting, warming, and social benefits that coffee provides. There is, however, something majestic about the first taste of this divine elixir on a cool morning, which we have a LOT of in Washington.

Everything I need in the morning
 My Routine: 
I put about 2tablespoons of my favorite creamer, then I will add about 2-thirds of a pint of milk to a microwave-safe mug and heat for one and a half minutes.  The warmed milk and cream goes into my travel mug, and as I walk to the staff lounge to get my coffee, I will shake my mug so my milk and cream are foamy, and frothy.  Once I get my coffee, and take a sip, I wait and let that first rush of heat warm me up all the way to my stomach.  I have then, been taken to my happy place!

There is something beautiful in the smell, the taste, and the look of a properly brewed pot of coffee.  Since I'm up late at night and up early in the morning, coffee is my aide to help me be a functioning narcoleptic.  It is my guilty pleasure I do not feel guilty about! 

Monday, March 14, 2011

The State of Manhood: A Soap Box Moment

As I take a moment to switch my focus from the Dadhood to Manhood, I have to be sure to make my search engine filter is strict so someone's MANHOOD doesn't pop up (pun intended) on my screen.  As I did twitter searches and Google searches for manhood, I found what I expected to see.   We have shrunk the concept of manhood from an ideal to strive for, to nothing more than a throbbing member with hormones raging through it.  The American rite of passage of manhood is not a test of character, but a test to solve for the volume of a cylinder ()!  We have more men who want to live like boys than we have boys wanting to be men.  What is the consequence of living in the past?  Well, you may wake up one day and find you're married with children trying to relive your one glorious day at Polk High, with a woman you despise and children you hardly know.

Anyways, the problem is not what you find when you search for manhood, but what it has come to mean.  Manhood, like many other terms, has become distorted and perverted in its meaning and usage.  If you do not believe in the power of a word, consider the N-word.  This is a word that so oppressed a race of people, that they took on the task of using it to continue to oppress themselves.  Manhood used to mean something of substance, and even though it only kind of does now, it has become slang for a man's Johnson, Wang, Rasputin, or whoever he wants to call his Peter.

Manhood is defined as the state of being a man.  It is a state of being, not the dingle on your dangle.  There is the saying to make sure you do  not "drop the soap" in prison, or your manhood will be taken.  This too is the wrong idea of manhood.  If you apply this thinking to the gay community, then you are saying that they are not men.  Is that true?  To be honest, I would much rather have a devoted, self-aware compassionate individual on my team than a tiger-blooded Adonis  warlock who loves and hates violently.

We reach manhood not through the knocking of boots, or slapping of skins, but through perseverance, and proving we have an unshakable determination.  We learn to survive by our wits against the elements (camping), and bend them to our will (camp fires).  We discover that we are good at some things, but not at others, and we do not cry to our mommies to force the schools or organizations to make us participate so we feel good about ourselves by having no winners or losers.  We are prepared for the harsh realities of life is the safe and loving environment of our home by the man we strive to become one day... our fathers. 

[Climbing down off my soap box]

Thank you for indulging me for a bit.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Evening Dance Party

Since The Wife and I have managed to make it this far into parenthood without needing to pay for childcare, I feel very fortunate.  We live close to our folks and her parents and grand parents watch the kids often.  My brother and sister-in-law [pictured on the right] have also been able to watch the kids and let them play with their cousins.  Since The Wife works most evenings so we don't need childcare, I am home with the kiddos at night for 5 nights a week.  We have lots of fun!

For Wordless Wednesday, I am adding a pair of videos from one of the many dance parties the kids have to the Yo-Gabba-Gabba playlist on Last.fm.  Enjoy!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Back Again

           I am doing my best to want to set a time to meet with my mother.  I should want the opportunity to rebuild a new relationship with her on my own terms, but I’m not.  Is it because the hurts are too deep?  No.  Is it because the betrayal is unforgivable?  No.  Is it because I’m waiting for an apology or for her to know how much she hurt me?  No.  Then why?  The answer to this is easy: I’m happy.  I’m happy, and it took removing her from my life to achieve it.  So, then the question becomes, “Why would I risk letting her back into my life?” 
            I found an old journal entry from the week after my 23rd birthday, when I was only one month into not speaking to my mom. 

            Journal Entry from 7 years ago:
I received a card from my mother saying exactly what is wrong in our relationship.  She said simply, “We’ll never let go.”  To me, that is the problem.  They are not allowing me to do what all men are supposed to do; leave his mother and his father, and cleave to his wife.  They do not realize that love doesn’t hold tight, love lets go.  Love is not selfish, love lets us go and learn who we are.  Love doesn’t dictate to us who we are or should be.  Love isn’t boastful, but they chose to take all the responsibility for the good in my life.  They want to tell me what my struggles are and are not.  They want me to be their little boy forever.  I get no credit for growing to where I am.  The people who should see my growth don’t. 
The call me childish and they call me immature.  If I am immature and not a man, then define maturity and what it means to be a man! […] If we want to hold the past over someone, theirs is the marked past that needs to be confronted, dealt with, and accepted.  Their disrespect for my future wife is their way of choosing not to be a part of our lives.  I won’t be around someone, or ask my future wife to be around someone who will not respect us. 

            It reminded me of what I was feeling and thinking at the time.  Seven years and one month since that entry and I’ve only seen my mother twice in person.  However, we’ve been exchanging texts for the last month about meeting up again. 
            I wish this was some kind of accomplishment, but the person texting me sounds like the same person I removed from my life sever years ago.  Do I really want to open Pandora’s Box hoping that the world doesn’t end this time?  A main hesitation is that I don’t want to meet with her without a plan for what I want to say.  However, the more I think about it, the more I realize that I have nothing to say to her.  So where does that leave me. 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

There IS No HOW-TO

A common trend I see among the Dad-Blogosphere are the how-to tips for being a "great dad" or a "better husband".  As helpful as these tips are, they reflect on the way men see the world... Here's a problem that needs fixing... here;s the steps needed to fix it.  

What we forget, is how people do not follow formulas.  What may work with someone, for example our own kids, today, may not work for them in a similar situation tomorrow.  I WISH relationships were like cars, or something with an owners manual where I could refer to the FAQs or the troubleshooting section and call and talk to someone if needed. 

This is one of the reasons I dove into the Dad-Blogosphere.  Not so much for some weekend-warrior quick-fix tips, but for the ability to connect and share trials and triumphs.   I have enjoyed it, and I enjoy the people I have met, and look forward to meeting more! 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A History Redefined

            As a history major in college, it was stressed to me that history is not something that we read about that happened a long time ago.  We discussed the idea that history is, in fact, a conversation between time and space… between the past and the present.  The lessons we were taught at a young age didn’t make sense until we were older.  New archeological discoveries lead to new revelations about the past and our origins.  When we finally see our parents as humans and not omnipotent creatures in charge of our fate, it gives us a new perspective on how life really was, and how it really can be.  As children become parents themselves, there is a constant internal dialogue between the lessons we were taught, what we actually learned, and how we plan to teach our children.  Our own children either help us to understand our parents and how hard they worked on our behalf, or it leaves us perplexed by the choices they made. 
            Sadly, I fall into the category of the latter.  My parents were the BEST when I was young.  My family was likened to the Cosby’s by my friends, and other families came to my parents for advice and support.  However, this pedestal I placed my family on was shattered, and everything I thought my parents were and stood for was undermined by the time I was 23. 
One single example:
My parents were successful Black entrepreneurial business people.  Or so I thought they were.  They did have a company for more than ten years, and I worked with their employees for two summers.  I got to know these people and enjoy working with them.  They took me in, and showed me the ropes and I had a good time even though it was hard work.  I assumed that the company was doing well because we had a house, and we had enough food to feed several teens, and we had a sailboat that we would enjoy on the Puget Sound.  I learned the value of hard work, and a job well done, and to work with integrity because we did not have a supervisor checking in on us all the time.  I learned these things from people who, as it turns out, do not have these values.  I do not believe that a business owner acts with integrity when they have an expensive recreational vehicle like a 34-foot Catalina sailboat and their employees may or may not have received a valid paycheck for all their work.  A sailboat provided me with great memories that are now tarnished to reflect on now, because I can only think of other people who were trying to provide for themselves and their families while we were out on the water.  I would have gladly grown up without a sailboat if that meant hard work was properly compensated, and families were provided for. 
My parents… were not the Cosbys.  The people who raised me until I was 18, was not a true representation of who they truly were.  The people who raised me were people of integrity, strong and determined to persevere through the trials and obstacles that got in their way.  The people who raised me did not tolerate dishonesty and were the quintessential American Dream realized.  They taught me how to work hard and play hard.  They taught me to value all people from the most to the least.  They taught me how to love God, and how to be my own person.  They taught me that no one will hand me anything, and that I have to go get it.  They made sure I had the tools and values to be successful in life. 


Their ideas of success, and what they taught me success meant were two different things.  The people who raised me was not who they really were, and they could not keep up the charade forever.  When their veil was pulled from over my eyes they tried to say, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.”  

Lasting Effects:
What does this mean for my kids?  How have the failings of my parents effected how I parent my children?  PROFOUNDLY!!!  My wife tells me that I am a good father.  I don’t think I can put into words what that little statement means to me.  Being blessed to have both a daughter and a son I am living vicariously through them.  Not in the way that I am try get them to succeed where I failed in life, or where I came up short.  I AM experiencing what it feels like to have loving, honest, parents of integrity, and character.  I am doing my best to replace the tainted memories of my childhood with the memories of their childhood. 
Maybe this is how it’s supposed to be.  We are not supposed to be the kind of people who use our children to get something, or to work the system.  Our children are not accessories, or trophies.  Our children are not charged with the birthright of continuing on our lowly ambitions.  As parents, it is US that is charged to help them reach a level we did not know was possible. 

For my kids, I’m starting by being the person worthy to be called their dad.