Category Archives: I’m the third child

Drop of Grace

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But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

 

It is a battle everyday.  I fight to rest.  And wake up tired.  I call out and ask for relief.  Everyday.  It comes for a moment, until I turn my head to the side.  There is something I struggle with.  So I turn to the other side.  There is another.  I look ahead to try and stay focused.

 

You may have similar feelings even without getting into specifics with what your struggle is, your thorn in your side that you beg God to take away from you.  Or maybe you have no idea what I am talking about because you have excised your demons.  In fact, I assume that you are better than me, because I am the best sinner in the world.

 

If you’re still with me, just a reminder with the verse above:  God’s grace is sufficient for you; God’s grace is sufficient for me.  He makes my weakness my strength.  He does the same for you.

 

When you are challenged with a tough-parent-day (similar to a bad-hair-day), God’s grace is sufficient for you.  When you have made a mistake as a spouse, God’s grace is sufficient for you to apologize to your significant other first and swallow whatever pride you think you deserve.  When you are challenged with your everyday battle that you always face at work, at home, at karate class, at whatever place you find yourself, God’s grace is sufficient for you to rest in the power of Christ and let Him perfect you.

 

I know.  You look at me and see a perfect dad, a perfect husband, and a perfect friend.  Let me burst your bubble.  I am only two of those things.  I’ll let you decide which two.  I am kidding, of course.  I am only one of those things.  As you may also struggle, I struggle with trying to be a great dad, a great husband, and a decent human being.  Maybe you don’t struggle with any of this, as I mentioned earlier, but you can relate because you used to be imperfect and know the pain I feel.

 

Some days I seek complete rescue, but, maybe God doesn’t want to rescue us completely.  Maybe, like Paul, He wants us to have a reminder that I need His grace.  I need His power to lift me out of my weaknesses.  I need this to remember to call out to Him when I am not at my best, for when I am weak, then I am strong.

 

Fortunately, God doesn’t keep His grace from me.  Fortunately, I do not need much to be satisfied.  I just need a drop.  Just think:  if I only need a drop of grace to be perfected more and more, how quickly would I drown if He gave it all to me all at once?  As much as I want it, I don’t think I could handle it, so He gives me what I can handle.  Drop by drop.

 

Drop by drop there is a slow drip of grace to my soul to be satisfied.  Drop by drop God strengthens me.  Drop by drop He perfects me.  His power is perfect for what I need today and every day.

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Rearview Mirror, 2016

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What a year.  So full of hope and promise.  Big goals.  Big dreams.  Big hopes of getting stuff done.  Then video games as the path of least resistance, lack of vision and motivation to stay focused on the goal.  Distracted by other “important” things like hashtag wars on Twitter, or…sitting.  Well, maybe not just sitting, but certainly distracted.

 

Year-long goals can be hard, especially when you are not conditioned to set, plan, and execute them, as I am.  I ended 2015 wanting to read 10 books in 2016.  I wanted to write more.  I wanted to get promoted at work.  I wanted to expand my career options.  I wanted to…do a lot of things.  But I got complacent.  I didn’t plan as well as I could have.  

 

There are some things I did do well, though.  Or there are things that did go well.  My wife left her corporate job and started her own sales coaching business, and I helped her by supporting her, taking care of the kids in the evenings, and giving her time to ramp up.  I also did take on some more responsibilities and learned some new procedures at work to put myself in a better position to be promoted.

 

Here are a couple of things that did go well:

-Drew closer to God

My wife started her own business and left her corporate job.  That provided opportunities for me to serve my family, so I did.  I took on some more responsibility around the house by taking the girls to hockey practice or karate classes and by getting them ready for bed on nights my wife had evening appointments or classes.  I definitely drew closer to God seeking patience while spending more time than usual with my kids, who are…lovely come bath time.  It was also a time to draw closer to God trusting that He would help provide for her business or not.  It has been a great year trusting in Him.

 

-Took on some work opportunities

I work in a lab, and my main role up to this year has been analysis of the samples that come in.  Early in the year I was asked to start training on the sample processing side of the lab, called the wet lab.  Part of the catch of doing this was changing my schedule a bit from a 9 AM start time to a 6 AM.  Quite a change that was only going to be on the days I was in the wet lab, but I ended up changing my schedule to 6 AM permanently.  To say the least, I am tired by the end of the week.  The good thing about that change is it helps my wife with her business by being home to take care of the kids after school.  I also applied for a couple of open positions at work, one would have been a promotion and the other added responsibility.  I didn’t get either – the promotion due to lack of experience, and the other due to an improper fit with my career goals.  There were some good things to not getting these roles, though.  Getting passed for the promotion gave me things to improve on, and the other role helped me realize what direction I want to take my career.

 

Cliche of the blog post:  If at first you don’t succeed, try again.  I’m not going to give up.  I’m regrouping, looking at what changes I need to make, and try again for 2017.

 

A year later I am looking forward.  I don’t have as many books to read through the year as my goal, but the goals haven’t really shrunk.  It may have expanded.

 

I just want to change the world.

 

Too big of a goal?

 

Maybe.  Here are some things I want to do in 2017:

-Use my blog to tell parenting stories and share the gospel.  

I’ve been a Christian a long time but only recently have started to understand the freedom God brings.  I want to share how He is transforming me into a better person and parent.  He has a lot of work to do, by the way.

 

-Speak up for the poor.

I am an armchair activist, but I still strive to make a difference.  So I will donate to the cause.  A friend is a missionary in Brazil, last year I was introduced to Charity Water that builds wells in Africa and 100% of the money donated goes to building wells, and recently I was introduced to Speak Up For The Poor, which is an organization that educates girls who would otherwise be sex trafficked in Bangladesh.  I know there is more that can be done.  I am starting by helping with my wallet.

 

-Activate politically.

We live in troubling times regardless of what side of the political aisle you stand on.  There are so many issues that need attention such as global warming, or racial profiling, or improving the education system, which are very different but still important these days.  I don’t know where I will focus my energy as of right now, so I am going to start by contacting my local representative.  You should too.  I’ve spent too much time only being involved around the time of presidential elections.  Time to stand up and get some work done.

 

-Continuous improvement

I am hoping the extra effort I put in last year at work pays off and leads to a title upgrade. To go along with that I look forward to expanding my skill set.  It seems that I am a nerd and am interested in data.  The business world of today is driven by having data.  There is a great Hidden Brain podcast episode about Uber and the data they collect to improve their business.  I would like to do that do that for my company, but that is going to require some education on my part in data science and analysis.  In general, I am always learning through audiobooks and podcasts.  Now is time to educate myself some to grow my career.

 

Here is what I will do not matter what:

-Draw near to God

I can try to change the world, but, one, it will only matter if I do it with Jesus, and, two, it can only be done with Jesus.  What is making it…interesting is lately I feel like I’m being attacked and hindered from accomplishing something for God.  This gives me even more reason to lean on Him.

 

-Try again

Year-long goals is not a regular thing I do.  I don’t normally make New Year’s Resolutions, nor do I normally set goals for myself and try and accomplish them.  This is a new venture for me, and I did not do so well in 2016.  Practice makes perfect.

 

Let’s go get 2017!

 

How did your year go?

 

What went well for you?

 

Where could you improve?

 

What are you looking forward to most in 2017?

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Why Be A Good Parent?

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Part of the reason I started this blog in the first place is to try and make people laugh. I am a very sarcastic person when I talk to people. I mostly make sarcastic comments at the expense of others, but I will only do that if I feel comfortable enough with you to make fun of you. So, FYI, if I don’t know you very well, I probably won’t talk to you very much or aim my sarcasm at you. Anyway, the other reason I started this blog is to help dads know that they are not alone out there. Our kids can drive us nuts, and we dads should stick together. Just like women go to the bathroom together, guys should share kid-war stories with each other. That idea of dads exchanging ideas doesn’t happen. Tasha has told me numerous times to ask my friends with kids, particularly daughters, how they relate to their kids and manage to stay sane.

But I never have. Partially because I felt embarrassed, and partially because I feel weird doing it. It is the old adage or stereotype of guys who don’t like to ask for directions. I don’t like asking for directions with my kids just as much as I wouldn’t want to ask for directions to the nearest McDonald’s. So my hope is that this blog will entertain as well as let dads know or remind them why being a dad is cool and they are not alone.

I have mentioned it before, but I listen to a lot of podcasts. I was listening to an Entreleadership episode recently, and the guest mentioned a quote: “When you know your why, you can endure any how.” I had heard that before, but I didn’t fully understand it. I didn’t understand my why, why I am doing what I am doing, either with this blog or as a parent. Sometimes I forget my why as a parent and that’s when the thought, “Don’t ever f%$#ing have kids” either crosses my mind or comes out of my mouth. Tasha is coaching me on building up my blog into more than just a blog, and she asks me why I am doing things and I don’t know.

I need to find my why. And you should too.

There are a lot of hows because there are so many million scenarios, but there are only a few whys. Or perhaps just one: why am I parenting? I am parenting because I want my kids to be better than me. Depending on who you ask, that shouldn’t be that hard. Regardless, I want them to be better. I want them to be awesome. They already are awesome. I want them to be awesomer, but for them, not me. I will be proud of them no matter what they do, as long as they know they are doing what God made them to do and they are doing their best at it. There are a lot of hows, and most of them baffle me, but the important thing is why am I trying to be a good parent to my kids? So they do what I say? Or so that they learn on their own how to do what’s best for them?

Some of my posts so far have been about how my kids drive me nuts. They drive me nuts when they don’t listen when I ask them to do things. They drive me nuts when they whine about doing things I ask them to do and they don’t want to do it and kick and scream on the floor. They drive me nuts when they want mom to push them on the swings instead of me, but she’s not available because she is pushing the other kid. They drive me nuts when I am trying to get them ready in the morning for school, and I have to ask them again and again and again to eat their breakfast, find clothes to wear, put those clothes on, brush their teeth, and put their shoes on. All of these things usually end with me screaming, “How many times do I need to tell you to eat?! How many times do I need to ask you to get your clothes?! Didn’t you hear me say you woke up late, and we can’t be late to school?!”

ARGGHHHHH!!

Well, you’re not alone. Just the other day I was talking to a mom of Zoey’s friend at school about her struggle and how loud she was screaming at her girls to get them to focus, eat, and get dressed. Great chance for me to plug my blog, which I did: I said, “Welcome to my life. It’s like that every day for me. This is why you should read my blog. The struggle is real, and you are not alone.” She’s not on Facebook or Twitter (I know, I don’t know how she survives keeping her life so private), so she hasn’t seen that I have a blog.

The struggle is real, and you are not alone.

I struggle with the hows. When the girls get in trouble, they go to timeout like most kids would. So how many “hows” do I have? How come you can’t just listen? How many times are you going to ask me where we are going? How come you girls can’t play together without fighting? How can you still be whining? How can you be crying when I caught you trying to eat cupcakes without permission? How can you get mad at your sister for taking the toy you are not playing with? How many times do I need to put you in time out? I go to mental time out and stomp around the house for a few minutes to calm myself down. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

Why put them in timeout? Tasha has made a habit for herself and for me to sit down and talk to our girls after a timeout. Part of the sit down is to talk them about why they were in timeout, what they did to earn the timeout, and what we both can learn from it. Part of the sit down is also for either Tasha or I to apologize for getting upset and losing our cool. The point is to train and discipline our girls that whatever they did is not the behavior we deem acceptable and not the culture we want to have in our family, and to teach them that apologizing for mistakes by both of us is important. Granted me steaming, stewing, and storming the halls of the house is not the culture Tasha wants me to cultivate in our family and house either, but she can only work on one or two children at a time, not all three (I’m the other child, by the way).

A more important part of the timeout is to explain why we got upset. It would be so much easier to just do nothing and let our kids run around like crazy people, scream at us, snatch toys from other kids, and do whatever they want. In the short term that would be easier to let them be “free spirits” and learn the ways of the world and society on their own. Hippies! Just kidding, but there are parents like that right? I’m sure we all know one. In the long term, I am making a large assumption that most people and parents know that a kid like that makes a bad adult. Now, 1+1 doesn’t necessarily equal 2. There does come a point where kids, young adults, or adults, make their own decisions. I know I made my own despite what my parents wanted or demanded me to do, but overall I work hard (just not study hard), I am generally polite to people, and have good manners because of the way my parents raised and disciplined me. That is the goal Tasha and I have, and I would assume most parents have for their kids: to have happy, healthy, shiny, productive kids that contribute positively to the world. An over simplification, but I am sure you get the point.

Comedian Louis C.K. said in one of his specials he is training his daughters to be the adults he wants them to grow up to be, not just disciplined kids. Our goal, Tasha’s and mine, is to have good adults, not just good kids. We want them to make good decisions now so that they develop the habit of doing it later on.

When I tell people that my daughters at 3 and 5 have allowances and chores to earn that allowance, they think I’m running a sweatshop, or whipping my kids to do the dishes. They feed the fish, practice karate, and put dirty dishes in the kitchen. But why not teach them about money and work early? The earlier the better. We also teach them about tithing and offering and why we do it. I didn’t learn how to make and stick to a budget until I got married. Now we’re on the Dave Ramsey plan, which can be tough, but it’s also better than being stressed out wondering how we’re going to pay our bills. It would be great if my girls had enough money to go to college debt free and buy a house before their 25th birthday.

I am not the perfect dad, but I think I am on the right track. The other morning I was getting ready for work, and we were all in the kitchen. Tasha and Zoey were in some conversation about her growing up and getting married, maybe she asked if Zoey had a boyfriend or something. I can’t remember, but what did catch our attention was that she “wants to marry someone like daddy.”

I must be doing something right.

What is your parenting why? What are your parenting challenges? Have you lost your noodle and need a reminder of your “why”? Leave a comment with your “why” and let’s work together!
If you want to listen to the Entreleadership podcast episode I mentioned, here is the link:
https://www.entreleadership.com/podcasts/john-o’learyliving-an-inspired-life.

My kids have an allowance. Read about it here: http://charliesdadlife.com/why-my-daughter-has-more-spending-money-than-i-do/

Need some financial peace of mind? Do the Dave Ramsey plan that we did: (http://www.daveramsey.com/fpu/home/)

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It Was A Very Good Year-Lessons Learned As A First Time Dad Blogger

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While reading a dad blog that wasn’t mine, I stole the idea to do a year-in-review.  There is only one problem:  I don’t remember.  There are some highlights that I remember, but I don’t remember everything.  Maybe it is “Daddy Brain” that has been preventing me from remembering such high detail these days.

 

Nonetheless, there are some things I do remember.  

  1.  Dad Needs To Step It Up

First was how our family started off the year:  in a hotel.  Near the end of the year I found mold in our kitchen cabinets.  I cleaned it up, which is not what is advised, but it came back a couple weeks later.  I also noticed water on the outside wall of where I found mold.  The next day Tasha had a cabinet guy come check it out, he found a burst pipe, and the next day our homeowner’s insurance had us in a Residence Inn.  That was about January 3rd and that was cool for about three days.

 

We were there for two weeks.

 

The restoration company gutted our kitchen and the adjacent living room.  There was water damage in the floor and a lot of the dry wall.  The restoration company moved all of our stuff out in the living room and kitchen, removed all the kitchen cabinets and trashed them, and about half of the drywall in the kitchen and living room from floor to two and a half feet up was cut out and dried for three days.

 

The upside was that we got a new kitchen out of it, and the entire interior of our house was repainted.  In the process, my mother-in-law talked my grandmother-in-law into giving us a gift so that we could redo one of our bathrooms.  Since part of the house was already destroyed, why not destroy and make another part of the house pretty too.  That was a nice bonus.  That also worked out because it turns out the sellers of our house, who we suspect were trying to flip a foreclosure, did a quick redo of the shower in the bathroom we decided to redo and instead of building the shower with concrete they used dirt.  The contractor we used got that surprise when he dug up the shower.

 

People live in worse conditions, so I am definitely not trying to compare our plight with those who actually suffer in other countries.  It was an inconvenience, but we definitely had it taken care of rather quickly.  New cabinets and countertops were all done by mid-March.

 

Good first quarter.

 

The only reason why we had it all done so quickly is because my wife was in charge, meaning she gets stuff done.  She hates asking my opinion on things because I can’t make a decision.  If it were left up to me, we would still be deciding if we really need cabinets at all in the kitchen.  We could just stack stuff up and it would all be out in the open easier to find.  My decision-making was already bad.  Marriage has caused it regress even more since I don’t need to exercise it very much.  My wife would appreciate it very much if I upped my game and helped out a little more in running the house.  I should do that in 2016.

 

Guys, we can be really good at letting our wives run the house.  We think they like doing it, they won’t say anything, most of the time, until the situation comes to a boiling point, then a trigger that we pulled by not deciding something simple like what’s for lunch sets her off, then we end up standing there with our shoulders shrugged and palms out asking, “What did I do?!”  If she wants to take charge, she will.  You already know that.  The rest of the time, she’s waiting for you to take charge.  Help set the family budget, make the reservations and send out the invitations for your kids’ birthday parties, make the dinner schedule for the week.  Or start smaller by planning your date night for that week.  What’s date night?  Ok, pick the movie you and the family will sit down and watch together.  Flex that “Dad’s the Boss” muscle a little.  If you’re afraid she’s going to squash you if you flex too much, like I said, don’t worry, I’m sure she’ll squash you if necessary.  In the meantime, I’m sure she’ll be happy she’s not doing the heavy lifting.

 

  1.  Steady Eddie (but my name isn’t Eddie)

There is a lot I am missing, but life has been steady, which is probably why I don’t really remember it.  God has blessed us, there is no question.  Maybe the question should be, am I too comfortable?  Do I need to do more and step out?

 

Hmm.  Possible.

 

A lot of sermons at our church or sermons from podcasts I listen to have had a theme of stepping out of your comfort zone as a Christian and actually do the work God and Jesus has called His people to do.  Being a Christian is more than just admitting so when I am asked, going to church on Sunday, tithing a small part of my paycheck to church, or putting a fish on my car.  Christians are called to be a light to the world, and I think I am being called out of my comfort zone in that way.

 

I don’t know exactly how or where I need to do this.  Personally, I just need to be open to God’s voice and call, and I need to keep my eyes open (that’s not an Asian joke).  Sometime last year I would see a guy around the shopping center the girls’ preschool is in.  After seeing him a couple of times, it seemed kind of clear he had nowhere to go.  I never had the courage to talk to him or say anything to him.  Then I didn’t see him for several months.  Then he showed up again, and again I didn’t do anything.  I was paralyzed by my own fear of what he would think of me instead of worrying about what God thought.

 

It’s time to be intentional with my faith.

 

  1.  Karate Kiddos

Throughout the year Zoey has continued her karate journey getting all the belts ever.  I want to say she started the year as an orange belt, which means she started as a pee wee with a white belt, earned a yellow then orange.  So this past year she earned a purple belt and in November reached blue belt.  At her dojo, for each belt the students learn an open-hand form, or kata, a weapons form, and sparring techniques and earn stripes to add to their belts once they master each.  So Zoey has accomplished a lot this year, which is great.  With the blue belt she has to senpai (pronounced “sen-pie”) some of the lower level belts, which means she is an assistant instructor to white belts.  She is five and a half.  Tasha and I are going to have to start learning karate just to make sure we can defend ourselves from Zoey.

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Haley has also started karate, even though she is a little young.  The age limit is at least three and half.  She is only three, but the sensei has let her start since her big sister is there.  And they have been waiting to get her into class.  She’s been going and watching her big sister since she was an infant, and now it’s her turn.  She has done well and has earned her stripes to be promoted to the advanced pee wee class.  Early in December was the dojo’s Christmas tournament, and she earned a medal for doing her kata, Little Dragon.  Soooooo cute!  There have been a couple of Saturday sessions where she didn’t want to go because she doesn’t want to wear the karate uniform, the gi.  Now, can you guess why she, a little girl obsessed with Elsa and Anna, wouldn’t want to wear a karate gi?  Yes, that’s right:  because it covers up her beautiful nightgown, sweater, or pants.  To help accommodate this great concern of Haley’s, her sensei suggested that she find some sparkly pants or leggings to wear under her karate pants.  Got that done and the crisis of not being glamorous at the dojo was averted.  Although the next problem was the hair, and Tasha texted me a picture of Haley in karate class with a headband that had a flower attached to it.  Makes sense, and whatever it takes to get them out there.

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It wasn’t that long ago that Zoey was starting karate, and now she has earned four belts since then.  Tasha would tell me about the lessons since I was at work about how Zoey could barely stay awake during her first classes because they were during nap time.  Now both my kids are in karate and my older one is helping as an instructor.  It is such a cliche, but it is so true:  time flies.  Have fun while you’re in it and be there.  Be there in the moment.  You won’t get the time back.

 

  1.  Take In Every Moment You Can

One of the bigger milestones of the year was in August when Zoey started kindergarten.  She started reading a couple of months before that, and, in true Asian-parenting fashion, we got her a math workbook and started working on that during our vacation.  She’s kicking butt in kindergarten with most days coming home with a “Super Helper” pin or sticker.  And she keeps reading!  We tell her to stop or that she can’t learn anymore otherwise she goes to time out.  She doesn’t believe me, but I really don’t like all this learning.

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When I see her read, do math, or some other big-kid type of activity are the only times I wish she was still a newborn.  It just baffles me every day when I take a moment to look at my kids and see them turn into people, people I might hang out with whether or not they were my kids or not.  Remember because this, too, shall pass.

 

  1.  Look And Leap

Tasha and I both started blogs, although hers is part of a business she started.  She’s been in sales as a manager for most of her working career, and she has decided to start a sales coaching business for non-salespeople, or people who need sales skills but don’t have them.  Her first client:  me.  I need a lot of coaching.  Both of those things are not a joke.  I do need a lot of coaching, and before she built a website to reach out to others, she was kind of practicing her coaching on me and encouraging me to be a better person.  This was in an effort to improve on my communication and make me more promotable at work.  Then she helped me start my blog and has been coaching me on goals to work on turning my blog into a business.  Then she got a second client, a real client, which led to a third client, which has left me behind a couple of sessions.  However, she still keeps writing checks for “coaching” in the memo from our account to her business account.  Hmm…I need to talk to our accountant about that.  Oh, no: her mom is our accountant.

 

Well, her coaching business is doing well.  She started a podcast and has sales coaching materials out there that is slowly starting to get some notice, which is great.  You can check out her site at emergesalestraining.com, if you’re interested.  Like I said, sales skills for the non-salesperson.  Like if you’re in direct sales or network marketing but don’t have a sales background, or sales is not natural for you, she would be able to help you.  Or if you are a salesperson and maybe need help with referrals, she can help you out there.  Or if you need me to be a better person because I’m a jerk to you, pay her to coach me.

 

In an effort to really get her coaching business going, Tasha took of a leap of faith and quit her corporate job and became self-employed.  With the help of Dave Ramsey, the Good Budget app, faith, and good fortune, we saved up some money to cushion the blow of her not making money for a little bit while her business ramps up.

 

Faith has definitely helped both of us not worry about the loss of income for some time.  That also makes it easier for me to be supportive, knowing God is in control.  It also makes it easier knowing my wife is going to buy me an Aston Martin once she sells her business and/or franchises it.  That’s my reward for being the breadwinner during this time.  For the time she was the breadwinner, she has two kids, so don’t worry, the stakes are even.

 

And I, obviously, started a blog.  I had been wanting to write more since forever, but I am not always self-motivated.  Writing takes work, and playing video games, or just not writing, is a lot easier.  But then I complain that I don’t have time to write.  So Tasha, soon after starting her coaching business, encouraged me/made me as my coach to take more time out to write.  So if you don’t like reading my blog, you can blame her for encouraging me to unleash my thoughts into the cyber world.

 

So 2015 is in the rearview.  All is well the first weeks of 2016.  Zoey is going to take a break a little from karate and play roller hockey for a season.  The company I work for bought another company at the end of 2015, so that will be an interesting transition since I know some people at that other company.  So that will be…interesting.  The end of 2015 opens the door for some adventures in 2016.  I think that’s it for my Dad LIfe this year.  I hope 2015 was a good year for you, and I wish you a happy and bright 2016.  I guess.  I don’t think that is what people say to each other, but you know what I mean.  

 

Have a Happy New Year!

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The Ever Evolving Dad

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Evolution is real.   I know there is a giant battle between Christians, non-Christians, and scientists about the age of the earth, whether humans descended from apes, how giraffes got their long necks, or how a big bang put the earth and the other planets into place.  I am a Christian; I believe God created the earth, not some proteins smacked together really hard; and there are some things that just require faith, so I don’t need to know how old the earth is.  Do your own research and come up with your own conclusions.  But that’s not the point I am trying to make.

 

I am talking about the evolution or progression of people, everyday people like you and I.  I used to be really dumb.  Now I’m only kind of dumb, because I say things without being very informed, mostly regarding politics, and I often don’t plan very well but complain that things didn’t happen the way I would have liked them to.  And when I say “I used to be” I mean when I was a teenager.  I think anyone now in their 30s or older would look back at their teenage years and ask “What was I thinking?” or maybe even “Why didn’t I think that one through?”

 

Well, this became apparent at Thanksgiving dinner.  First, earlier in the day on Thanksgiving, I put up the Christmas lights on the house with Zoey’s help, who is 5 and a half.  I was wrapping lights around a palm tree by collapsing the ladder and leaning it against the tree.  I let Zoey climb the ladder and put up some other lights on the house, and now she asked me to do the tree ones.  I said no because the ladder was not stable.  She was bummed, but I told her maybe next year because then she’ll be 6 and a half, which is close to 7, which is probably old enough with my help.  That’s when it hit me that Tasha’s cousin, who is now a senior in high school, was 8 when Tasha and I met.  And now Zoey is not that far away from that age.

 

Wow.  Mind blown a little on how time flies.

 

So at Thanksgiving dinner, the “kids” table happened to be Tasha, myself, Tasha’s cousins-the one I just mentioned and his younger sister who is a sophomore in high school-and some of their friends who are in high school, too, complain and moan about dumb teachers who are so boring, or don’t have lives, or make homework hard, or classmates who are dumb and spoiled.  It was a riveting and scintillating conversation to hear.  I was trying to be enlightened and watch Jay Cutler and the Bears get creamed by Clay Mathews and the Packers, but, alas, the Bears prevailed spoiling Brett Favre’s jersey retirement.

 

But I digress.  I also got to hear Tasha’s cousin “spit bars” and say he was going to skip college, make a mixtape with his friends and become a rapper.  I told him to Google Chet Hayes, who is Tom Hanks’ son who thinks he, too, can be a rapper.  He and Tasha’s cousin might have a chance of being a wrapper, gift wrapper that is.  Ha Ha ha!  I’ll be here all week!  Good luck, kid.

 

But wait a minute!  I was 15, 16, and 17 once.  Maybe I was like that too with, seemingly, absurd career aspirations?  Nah!  Or was I?

 

I was, and I realized that as I sat there listening to these teenagers ramble on about their classmates and teachers.  It’d be interesting to see in 10-15 years after a couple of more years under their belts having lived life away from home, hopefully, and possibly having started their first job, maybe started a family of their own, or, the ultimate burn, they are teachers themselves.  They might be thinking reading this (I doubt they’re reading this), “No way, man.  No way am I going to be a boring teacher.  I’m going to be a doctor or lawyer or engineer, or something cool.”  Yup.  Life is that simple.

 

Comedian Nick Swarsdon has a bit talking about what would happen if people had to become the very first thing they thought of to be when they grew up.  He says it would be crazy because there would be ninjas, princesses, and race car drivers running the world.  You can look up his stand up on YouTube on your own.  It isn’t exactly family friendly, so I am not going to post a link.

 

Obviously, there is nothing wrong with being doctors, lawyers, or engineers, or ninjas, princesses, and race car drivers, for that matter.  And there is nothing wrong with dreaming to be any of those things, even rappers.  I remember being that age and having that perspective.  I think about that often when I talk to Tasha’s cousins:  that it wasn’t all that long ago that I dreamed similar dreams for my career, or had a similar perspective on my teachers, or had every word to say about my classmates.  In fact, I have every word to say about a couple of my coworkers without having the perspective of their point of view or taking any time to get to know them or walk in their shoes.  And when I was in high school, I didn’t want to be a rapper, but there was a period of time I wanted to be and thought I could be a professional snowboarder without putting in 10,000 hours.  Maybe not as far-fetched, but just as unlikely.  Possible but not probable, as a professor of mine would say.

 

Life is a process and a journey.  I hope this isn’t the first place you hear that the best part of life isn’t the destination but the process and the journey of finding out who you are.  I went to college with the aspirations of becoming a dentist.  I’m glad that didn’t work out.  I would probably have been okay at the dental work part, but the part of working with patients and the part of trying to get them to do the work they needed to be healthy would drive me crazy.  I would probably take it too personal and drill a little too hard.  It also wasn’t too long ago I thought about getting my Ph.D.  I’m glad that also didn’t work out.

 

So this Thanksgiving I’m thankful for personal growth, that it’s possible, that there’s a choice we can all make.  We all can choose to evolve with our circumstances or not.  Roll with the punches.  That in all aspects of life-mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual-we are all in process learning and, hopefully, learning from each other how to be human.

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Daddy The Dodo Bird

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I was a good student up until second grade.  I know that’s not a long run.  At the end-of-the year awards, all the smart kids got 3-4 awards.  Then I got 4, so I was part of the group.  Then, then it happened.  I got a fifth award.  My classmates were in awe, and so was I.  I knew I was pretty smart, but I also knew there were other kids smarter than me.  Or at least it felt that way.  Again, maybe part of my insecurity growing up.  Then I got this fifth award.  No one else did.  I did my best not to show it being a shy kid, but I was pretty excited.

 

And my parents have never forgotten not let me forget.  I turn 40 soon, and I’m sure they brought it up once within the last year.

 

Shortly after that my academic career took a tumble.  I decided playing was more important than studying.  I had moments of brilliance in junior high and high school like not having to take the final in social studies because I had an A, or being one of two students in AP Bio who earned a 95% or higher on the summer reading project.  Aside from those two events and maybe a few more I can’t remember right now, my academic career isn’t anything to brag about.  Like I said, I still get flak about it to this day.  These days it is more from my wife, because she can clearly see I have intelligence, but I just chose not try too, which is the worse sin.  I understand that.

 

Well, regardless of my low grade point average in high school and college, I am a relatively smart person.  I am a constant learner and have a list of books I want to read with subjects ranging from science to the CIA to the history of World War II.

 

But I’m still a dummy.

 

Tasha and I had a inside, running joke for a little while before we had kids about how dumb I am.  Not because I am dumb, but I don’t ask a lot of questions.  My work schedule gives me Mondays off, so if there were important errands or phone calls that had to be made, I would make them so she wasn’t on hold for 30 minutes with the phone company.  So I would call, but she would have to explicitly explain what to ask, follow up questions, and follow up questions after that with a particular answer as the end goal.  Otherwise, I would call, get an answer, tell Tasha, she would ask me a follow up question, I wouldn’t have to answer, then she would end up having to call anyway.

 

Well, this kind of thing happens in regards to my kids at times.  I sometimes forget that other adults such as my friends or teachers, know that kids don’t always know a lot since they are, obviously, young and learning about the world.  So they may talk down to their level.  They won’t speak in “baby talk,” but they will ask the kids questions or explain things much simpler than they would if they were talking to adults, who, they would assume, know things.

 

On Zoey’s first New Year’s Eve, we had some friends over, and one of our friends had a son, Lucas, who was 2 or so.  Zoey was about 10 months, and she had a toy laptop.  Lucas was playing with the laptop that was closed.  A friend at the party, Lauren, in an effort to play with Lucas, asks him how to open the laptop.  I, trying to be a helpful host and sort of co-owner with Zoey of the laptop, decide to jump into this conversation.  I say to Lauren, the lawyer so obviously well educated enough to know how to open a child’s laptop, “Oh, you just open it up.”

 

Yeah, thanks.

 

Lucky for me Lauren is very nice.  We laughed at the moment, and my internal dialogue was, “Oh, duh.  Of course, she knows how to open that.”  Just stay in your lane, Charlie.

 

Fortunately, people in general are also nice.  I may have mentioned that I get the girls ready in the mornings and walk them to school.  I take Zoey first to elementary school, then Haley is across the street to preschool.  After Zoey is done with kindergarten in the morning, she goes over to the preschool where Haley is for daycare until Tasha picks them both up in the evening.  One morning I walk Haley to preschool after dropping off Zoey, and I give Haley her lunch bag and ask her to put it away in her class while I put Zoey’s lunch in her class.  Haley was being a little shy that day, so she followed me into Zoey’s class where a teacher was sitting at a table with her students.. The teacher sees Haley and asks her in an effort to break the ice says, “Hi Haley. Where’s your sister?” I, forgetting that this is a teacher at the school who knows both of my kids already and is an adult with an adult brain (unlike me), answer her that Zoey is at elementary school until later.

 

Yeah, thanks.

 

I had a couple other examples, but forgot what they were before I could write them down.  Dodo-Daddy.  Then while I started writing one of the above stories, I thought of another two examples.  I wrote my story about the laptop, then went back to write the other examples I had thought of, but I couldn’t remember what that story was.  Dodo-Daddy.

 

Tasha just reminded me of another story, but this was before we had kids.  We went to McDonald’s for breakfast and we were on our way to somewhere, so we went through the drive-thru.  I place my order and pay at the first window.  I pull up to the second window to get my food.  The server passes me the bag of food, I say thank you, but ask where my orange juice is.  She tells me I didn’t order orange juice.  I tell her I did and in fact paid for it, but she insists a little that I didn’t.  I insist more saying, “I PAID for orange juice.” She says ok and goes to get me orange juice. While she’s getting me my drink, Tasha says a little terrified seeing that I am seething with anger over $1.50, “I don’t think you did order orange juice.”  The server comes back with orange juice, I thank her and drive away.  We look at the receipt and don’t find orange juice on the order.  Oops.  Thanks McDonald’s!  Sorry for screaming at you and acting entitled!

 

Oh, we were on our way to church.

 

There is pregnancy brain that you hear of where moms or moms-to-be forget very simple things.  Well, dads have Daddy brain too.  I remember the first day we were home with Zoey from the hospital, I took a shower and washed my face with conditioner.  However, pregnancy brain passes, to the best of my knowledge.  Moms go back to being women thinking of half a million things at once and only 24 hours to do them. 

 

Dads go back to being men thinking of one or, maybe, two things millions of times in the day.

 

P.S.  Oh!  I remember one of the “Duh!” moments that slipped my mind.  So, Zoey has been wanting to be a Power Ranger for Halloween for 2 years, but she keeps getting sick (http://charliesdadlife.com/who-are-you-supposed-to-be/), which means the Power Ranger suit she did have is too small for her.  So one day at Costco, Tasha got her a new one.  Zoey was showing me her new suit and said emphatically once or twice that it was a “real suit.”  “This is a real suit, Dad.  Not a little kid suit like the other one.”  I brushed it off at first as little kid talk, but she said it again that it was a real suit.  Tasha was in the other room, so I really had no other choice but to take my daughter at her word that it was a real suit.  I sat there puzzled for a few minutes as Zoey continued to show me her “real suit” that looked like any other costume or dress up clothes she would get at the Disney store or toy store.  The back of it clasped together and stayed on with velcro.  If it was a real suit, why would they only use velcro?  Wouldn’t that just easily come apart in a battle against the enemy?  That was a real thought that inhabited my brain for a minute.  Fortunately, a few minutes later Tasha came back into the room to say, “Yeah, it’s a ‘real suit.’ “ and gave me a look with raised eyebrows to put my dumb brain to rest.

 

As Tasha might say, it’s a good thing I’m pretty.

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Movember Blues

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Beards, mustaches, and facial hair in general have become cool and hip in the last few years. I know there is some reality show where guys, and maybe even girls if they really want to, compete against each other in who can grow the best beard.  A few years ago, the beard was making a comeback but mostly amongst hipsters, in my opinion.  I remember growing up thinking that beards were for hippies, and mustaches were for teachers and cops.  Now I can’t really turn around without seeing a beard.  Beards are in fashion.

 

I try to be somewhat fashionable.  I don’t keep up with the latest trends and won’t wear clothes just to wear what’s cool, like skinny jeans. But I’m not wearing polyester pants, bell bottoms and a butterfly collar, or whatever the Fresh Prince’s mom dressed him up in that got him beat up in school either.

 

Well, with beards in fashion, I am left out in the cold with no facial hair to keep me warm.  I’m Asian and don’t grow a lot of facial hair.  I don’t grow a lot of hair, except on my head, but particularly on my face.  Before I got married and my wife made me shave every day, I had tried to let my facial hair grow just to see how long it might get and how it might look.  It looked bad.  I would have, maybe, four hairs on my chin, and they would just stick out.  Guys who grow beards, it seems the hair contours to their face and grows down feeling the effects of gravity.  My facial hair seemed to defy gravity and just stick out.  That coupled with only having four hairs on my chin, it was not a good look.  The good thing was I didn’t have to shave every day.  I shaved maybe every other day or every three days.  That was in my single days.  Now, Tasha “asks” me to shave every day.  By Day 2 of not shaving, my 5 o’clock shadow starts to come in.

 

The rest of me is somewhat similar.  I don’t have any chest, back, or shoulder hair.  Points for me there.  Tasha was very happy to find out I didn’t have chest hair.  I also don’t have very much hair on my legs.  I do have a knee-goatee, which is a patch of hair on my kneecap, not a lot of hair past that, then a little more hair on my shins down to my ankle.  You know when you don’t realize things are really different until someone points it out to you?  That’s the case with my leg hair until my friend pointed it out to me when we were in high school.  Also, my arms don’t have much hair, almost none.  Another friend from high school was always so jealous of my smooth arms.  So I guess it is a “grass is always greener on the other side” situation.

 

Most of the time I don’t have hair-envy.  I still don’t really, until Movember comes around.  Movember, for those that don’t know, is something that started a few years ago to raise awareness for men’s health.  During the month of November guys are supposed to grow out their beards or mustaches, and that somehow is supposed to encourage guys to get their prostate checked.  I don’t know exactly how that works, but I am definitely not able to play.  

 

Because I can’t.  Maybe if I started November 1st, I would have some semblance of a beard by Thanksgiving…2 years later.  The beard-struggle is real.   I still think beards are just for hipsters and hippies, but that’s just jealousy.  “I wanna play too, guys!”  But I can’t.  My Asian genes won’t let me.  But I’m okay with that.  Not having to shave saves me money on razors, shaving cream, water, and time.

 

But I still support Movember and men’s health issues, so go get your prostate checked.  Preferably by your neighborhood doctor.  But not by your neighbor, unless they are a doctor. Click Here to Subscribe to Charlie’s Dad Life

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Thank You For Your Service

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In college I thought I was enlightened because I read Howard Zinn and Karl Marx.  Zinn did open my eyes, but Marx I just had the book open and saw words.  None of it sank in.  I was an armchair activist, and a bad one at that.  I just had leftist thoughts that I didn’t do anything with.  I was just trying to be different by saying uninformed things like, “We don’t need no education!”  Or, “The man is keeping us down!”   I would say these things in my head while I sat on the patio of my parents house that was on top of a hill in suburbia, which means it wasn’t cheap.  Which means I didn’t really have anything to complain about, or even really know what I was shouting about in my head.  

 

I would think intellectually about war at the time, our country’s response to 9/11, and America’s military in the Middle East and pretend to have an informed decision.  My opinion at the time was that our country and troops had no right to be there and those joining the military were part of the problem.

 

Nope.  Not at all.

 

As I have grown older, I am no more informed than I was before.  I am too much of a kid and don’t watch the news.  I’m ignorant on political issues and stances, even though I am sure that I disagree with Republicans.  That is until my wife and I talk about something going on in the world, and she screams at me, “You think that way about that issue BECAUSE YOU’RE A REPUBLICAN!  Stop pretending to be a Democrat!”

 

Also, as I have grown older, my stance on the men and women who enlist in the armed services have changed.  I have become more appreciative of the men and women that serve this country by volunteering their lives to defend its’ freedoms.  I think one big turning point for me was when Pat Tillman, former NFL player, quit playing football to enlist with the Army Rangers.  It did not seem long after he enlisted and was deployed that news came out that he was killed in action.  I saw something this week that said he would have been 39.  He gave up his own hopes and dreams to something bigger than himself.

 

I couldn’t have been in the armed services because I don’t have the balls to crawl in the mud, or be too cold, or too hot, or be awake for more than 10 hours at a time.  It is best I don’t have a gun for my own safety, because I would trip on a rock and shoot myself in the toe.  When my kids play in the yard for 5 minutes, I make them change their pants, because they are now dirty.  I get cranky if I don’t get 8 hours of sleep.  How is a guy like me supposed to go through boot camp?  I screamed  bloody murder for Tasha to help when trying to take out the old dishwasher and water sprayed all over the kitchen.  Tasha came running in with no idea how to help.  I took a breath and reached under the sink to turn off the water.  I didn’t need her help, but I screamed for her like I did.

 

Imagine me on the battlefield:  “LIEUTENANT DAN!!!  HELP!”

 

That’s not what you want in a soldier.  Tasha and I agree it is a good thing I never went into the army, even though my dad served and really wanted me to in order to help pay for college.  Sorry, dad, but it’s a good thing I didn’t.  And thank you for your service.

 

Comedian Mike Birbiglia has a joke that I will paraphrase that says, “I support the troops because if there were no troops, I would be the troops.  And I would be the worse troops.”  I stand with Mike; I would also be the worse troops.
So I’ve come around some from the mindset I had in college, at least when it comes to those in the military and veterans who have served.  Thank you for your service to this country and its’ freedoms, and sacrificing yourself to something bigger.  Thank you, Dad, for your service, on the battlefield and at home.

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“WHY WON’T YOU JUST LISTEN TO ME?!?”

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If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, I hope I’m not alone when I complain about my delinquent, incredibly disobedient, obnoxious kids.  I may be exaggerating a teeny tiny bit (much sarcasm, I’m exaggerating a lot), but I still hope I’m not alone out there.  Kids are awesome and awful, as I’ve said before, but, as I’ve heard asked on a podcast this week, just as the people in your world get on your last nerves, how many times have you gotten on Jesus’ last nerve?

 

Um…no comment.  Carry on kids.

 

So I guess my kids are not as bad as I perceive them to be.  And, as it turns out, most people are not as annoying as I perceive them to be.  This means there is a problem with me.  Yes, I know some of you have been trying to tell me this for years.  More specifically in terms of my kids, there is a problem with my technique in getting buy-in from them.

 

I am not a persuasive guy.  I am not the rallying type to encourage people to get behind me and my plan and follow me into the jungle where the heart of battle is or other manly things.  I’m more of a follower and too easygoing to be the glue to keep people together or the general leading his soldiers into battle.  Although I may not be a persuasive leader, I am persistent.  Maybe one day, Tasha will write a guest post on the reason we’re married is only because I wouldn’t leave.

 

I’m not the alpha dog, but I am a dog with a bone that I will not let go of.  The majority of Zoey’s personality is from Tasha.  One part of her personality she gets from me is not letting go of that bone if she doesn’t want to.  If I ask her to do something and she doesn’t want to do it, we get into a shouting match that consists of a volley of “Listen!” and “No!” until Tasha has to step in and send us to separate corners.  If Tasha is not home, though, the shouting goes on longer until The Voice and Look of Doom from me comes out, tears on Zoey start to flow, and she ends up in time out.

 

A tried and true parenting tactic…that doesn’t work.  Unless the goal is to send kids to school crying, or running to their room, and to get parents all riled up, angry, and on a rampage testing the fortitude of every door and hinge in the house.  Then that mission will be accomplished.

 

I am lucky because my wife is a sales manager, and she spends a lot of her time managing the emotions and mindset of her team and their customers.  The same techniques and tactics apply to managing the emotions and mindset of kids…and husbands, so it seems.  Because she has this skill set, one, she tries to teach me how to be a better father (and in some scenarios a better human) and, two, how I can encourage my kids to LISTEN OR ELSE!  I mean, encourage them to make good decisions, which should be the goal of parents, all parents.

 

We all want our kids to be doctors or lawyers, or CEOs or whatever it is that is better than what we are doing so they don’t have to struggle as we have, struggles that often come from making bad decisions.  Myself, I made bad decisions with money and school.  I spent a lot of money I didn’t have, and I didn’t study when I should have.  We are going to make bad decisions as our kids will and that is where we bank experience and wisdom into our character, but if we (meaning all parents) can train our kids to minimize those mistakes that can bring world peace and end child hunger.  Oh, wait, sorry.  I went into my Miss America speech.

 

So here are some resources for you.  Don’t be thrown off or scared away by the title, but go to EmergeSalesTraining.com, subscribe to the newsletter or check out the podcast or both.  As you can tell by the site, it is aimed at salespeople, but the principles, if applied, will make you a more effective patient.  Parent.  Not mental patient.  Parent.

 

Full disclosure:  this is my wife’s coaching business, and she knows what she’s talking about.  She’s been a manager for over 10 years and continually receives awards for her team’s performance every year.  She is such a good teacher that I’ve learned to sell her every day, month, and year on why she should stay married to me.

 

And it works!

 

Most days, anyway.  Luckily, also for me that she is often too tired at the end of the day to evaluate my daily effort and participation.

 

At least check out the podcast (click for iTunes users, click for stitcher users ) and, in particular Episode 8.  In this episode, Tasha was trying to get Zoey to go to hockey practice.  Zoey went to a clinic, loved the first one or two sessions, but she didn’t want to go out on the next one and wouldn’t say why.  So it’s not just about discipline but how to talk to and relate to your kids in an effective and influential manner without having to put the foot down.

 

Just tonight, actually, I was able to be a more calm, gentler daddy.  Tasha had a friend over and they were talking.  Haley came over and asked for milk, and I offered to get it for her.  However, she wanted mommy.  Most times this is when we hit a crossroads and “She better listen or else!” which ends up with her in timeout and Tasha has to step in.  Luckily kids are easily distracted, like husbands.  She was wearing a pair of princess slippers and took them off, so I suggested she go put them away if she wasn’t going to wear them.  I walked with her to the other room to put the shoes away and then suggested she show me the pages the did in her math book (yes, she has a preschool math book so she can be like her sister; and we’re Asian, it’s what we do).  She started to show me, and then I asked her if I could get her milk while she works on the next page of her book.  The easy thing for me to do is scream.  I took a moment to try and talk to her this time.  And it worked!  If it works for me, it can work for you.

 

Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and a place for tough discipline, but just think about how you feel when your boss explains things to you and talks to you like a person versus when they bark orders at you and tell you to get it done while also threatening your job.  That’s the big one that I have had to learn and still need frequent refreshers:  screaming at your kids just leads to them screaming back.  So check out the podcast and the site for some helpful parenting tips.  Or if you happen to be in sales and need some help getting over the hump, check out EmergeSalesTraining.com.

 

I’m going to call my parents and apologize now.

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5 Things That Prove I Have Daughters

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I am outnumbered. We thought we would have one boy. We kind of hoped for it, but we didn’t really care that much. We just wanted our kids to be healthy. Happy and healthy. Well, healthy-50% of our wishes coming true isn’t bad. My dad wanted a boy to carry on the Smith name, but I have so many “cousins” in professional sports carrying on the Smith name I am off the hook (see because everyone has the last name Smith).

No we’re not going to try to a boy.

That is already out of the question, so no need to ask. The plan was always to stop at two. My wife hated being pregnant and cringes at the thought of being pregnant again. We’re happy with our girls. My wife tells me I am happy with three girls running my life, so I must be happy, right? Right. No, really. I’m happy.

So here are the five proofs I have that I have daughters running the show.

1. It’s a brave pink world.
The grandparents are happy with girls too as well as the one great grandma that the girls have. They all love spoiling the girls with clothes and toys. My mother-in-law, in particular, likes having two girls she can dress up in dresses, both American/Western world and Indian dresses like saris or lehngas, since her daughter didn’t like wearing dresses. We thought we had a clone in Zoey not wanting to wear dresses. Before she was two, most of the time Tasha and I dressed Zoey in pants or shorts. She didn’t have many skirts or dresses. Well, she had them, but we didn’t put them on her, and she wasn’t really asking to wear them. So at Christmas time, my mother in law had a Christmas dress she wanted Zoey to wear, and she kept trying to put it on her but Zoey refused. She was kicking and screaming and she ran away as grandma just barely put the dress over her head.

Well, both girls have come around to see things Grandma’s way. There is rarely a day either Zoey or Haley want to wear pants or shorts. Even if it is cold (about 3 days out of the year here in Southern California), they want to wear dresses and we make them wear leggings underneath. Grandma is also happy that she has someone to pass her jewelry down to. My girls love wearing bracelets, and Grandma was begging us to let Zoey get her ears pierced. She did when she was about two and a half and they fell out after a couple of weeks at school one day and the hole closed. We waited to do it again until just recently, and they have come out twice since. No wonder my wife doesn’t pierce her ears. What a pain in the ass.

Oh, and all these dresses are pink, or just about all of them. I do the laundry, and most weeks there is an entire load of laundry that is all pink or pink-adjacent to wash. Zoey even has a pink room. A book series that the girls love is Pinkalicious. It’s a good series and there are some other colors like Purplicious, Goldilicious, and Silverlicious, but the root is pink. Nature versus nurture: do girls like pink because they are girls? Or do they like pink because that is what grandparents, aunts, and friends buy them? There are exceptions to the rule but it makes me wonder a little (This book answers a lot of that question-Bringing Up Girls).

And what do you need to go along with the pink dresses and jewelry? A perfectly good manicure and pedicure to complete it. Grandma watches the girls regularly once a week, and during most visits the girls request/insist to have their nails painted. Haley doesn’t like to sit and wait to get her nails painted, but she wants them done. She also doesn’t want to wait for them to dry. That’s always fun. There are also the times that the girls are doing whatever they are doing, some time goes by where they are not screaming either at us or at each other, so I go searching through the house to see what is going on. That’s when I find Haley sitting on the floor of our bathroom on a hand towel painting her nails on her own. It has happened only a couple of times, and to be a good dad as well as minimize any further damage of nail polish on the carpet, I painted Haley’s nails. That has only happened once, but I was caught in the act. I was trying to hurry as much as possible to limit the number of witnesses. No such luck.

Got caught giving a manicure to Haley
Got caught giving a manicure to Haley

2. “The hits of the 80s, 90s, and today!”
This is the tag line of most of the bland, vanilla pop radio stations that play the widest variety of hits even though they only really play songs of 10 artists just different songs by those artists in a different order. Pop music is the bane of my existence. I do have the guilty pleasure song here and there-Michelle Branch, Sara Bareilles, other music that sounds exactly the same, maybe Adele-but that is not the primary style I listen to. I’m definitely not so hipster or snobbish to only be into music that no one has heard of or I have to be first on the scene with a band. However, I am a music snob and think all of my music is the best.

But I don’t get to listen to my own music much around the house or in the car when the kids are around. I do get to listen to my own music when I’m driving to work or at work, but if the girls are around it is either Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, maybe Pink (not Pink Floyd), or one of the songs from Frozen. Just pick a song and the girls probably know it and sing along, which is actually kind of cute. Read my post “I Wish I Could Just Shake It Off” and that will tell you about my life with kids’ music.

Again, I wonder if this is a nature versus nurture thing. I guess it’s a nurture: I used to listen to country growing up, because that’s what my parents listened to. And kids eventually develop their own taste in music, but is that also nurtured by what their friends listen too…? I don’t know the answer, but I am sure a One Direction or Taylor Swift concert is in my future in a couple of years.

3. “I’m sorry you didn’t see your mom this morning, but she had to go to work so she could pick you up on time.”
Somewhere along the road of life, I learned that I am responsible for my own actions and choices. I could play the victim, but that doesn’t do me any good nor help me in any way. I also have the luxury of being an adult with the ability to understand that certain things just happen and there is nothing I can do about that. You know, logic and reason come into play at times in life. Now, before I get in trouble, I am not saying women are illogical and unreasonable, I am saying my little girls are. Did I get in trouble just for bringing it up? Then forget I said anything and keep reading. What makes things worse is I don’t have empathy. I’m working on it.

Tasha gets up pretty early to try and get to work early to try and get home at a decent time to pick up the girls from school. Sometimes she leaves before the girls wake up, but it actually is a little worse if they see her. Actually, Zoey is getting better about letting Tasha go if she wakes up early enough. Haley isn’t. She’s clinging to her if she sees Tasha. Zoey is a fire needing to be put out if she wakes up and Tasha is gone. The trouble comes when Zoey wants to see her.

ZOEY: I want to see Mommy!
Me: You can’t see Mommy. She already left for work.
ZOEY: {stomping her feet and sobbing} I want to see Mommy now!
Me: She’s gone. What do you want me to do?
ZOEY: Make her come back!
Me: Sorry, but she can’t otherwise she’ll be late for work.
ZOEY: I WANT HER RIGHT NOW!

Usually we agree to call Tasha, they talk, and the world continues to spin. It is definitely not a very pretty scene either, especially if I haven’t eaten my breakfast yet or if Zoey hasn’t gone pee after waking up. My empathy and compassion fuel tank is definitely low when my stomach is empty. I only know this because Tasha has told me not to talk to the girls until I have eaten, otherwise I automatically start using my mean-dad voice, which triggers rebellion, which feedback loops to my disdain, which loops back to their defiance. Hmm, I guess I’m not that much different than the children.

4. The Voice and Look of Doom
It seems to be universally known that guys have a “I’m-talking-to-a-girl” voice. I do, apparently, put on a particular tone of voice when my wife calls me at work, and she makes fun of me for it. I have heard some girls do it too, so don’t think you are off the hook, ladies. Guys just usually get more heat about it from their buddies than girls do. Or maybe girls do give girlfriends grief about it, I just, obviously, wouldn’t know about it not being one of the girls.

Well, I have the opposite effect on my daughters. When I am mad, or just slightly agitated because there are too many toys on the floor, my tone of voice changes, and a simple request of, “Please pick up your toys before going to bed,” sends my kids running for the hills for Mommy. As mentioned above, if it is breakfast time and I haven’t eaten yet and Tasha already left for work, The Voice of Doom is more pronounced. If the girls sit in protest to whatever I have asked, I will ask again a little more frustrated having to ask again, which increases the tone of The Voice and The Look starts to come out of its’ cave a little. The more times I have to ask, the more The Voice starts to spike, and the more The Look and The Voice travel together up the side of a volcano that’s about to erupt.

Then it happens.

I’ve asked them to get dressed or brush teeth or eat food or drink milk five times in the last five minutes and everyone is now on time out! I should also be on time out. Everyone is crying, I’m screaming and slamming a door or two, then I try and breathe. It takes some time, but The Voice and The Look of Doom crawl back to their cave. I apologize to my kids for being a monster, and we walk to school like nothing happened.

The Voice is alive but needs to hibernate more.

5. “Huggies!”
No, this isn’t an endorsement or product placement, but if you need to buy some click this (Huggies). This is about hugs, like the physical contact kind. I don’t know about you, but physical touch didn’t happen a lot for me. Not like I was isolated and stuffed in a closet or anything, but when I was a kid, sometimes even now, I would have to greet my parents with a kiss. LIke I would have to. If I didn’t, I was in trouble. This also applied to relatives at family events. I have been in trouble because I didn’t tackle my grandma from behind and greet her with a kiss because she walked past me at a family dinner. Maybe because I was a boy, hugging wasn’t a thing. Or maybe I was indirectly taught hugging was only for family and relatives. Either way, when I got to school, my friends didn’t run up and hug each other.

I see Zoey do this with her friends all the time. There is nothing wrong with it, but I certainly notice it as different than how I would greet my friends when I was her age. I don’t think I hugged any of my peers until I was in junior high, and if I did, I hugged girls. And if I hugged girls, I considered that a lucky day because I had (have) no game (that’s for another day). Now that I think about it, I am just weird. I think it definitely had something to do with what I was taught about physical contact. Anyway, Zoey’s in kindergarten now, and she has been doing this since she was four in preschool. When I would drop her off, there would be a small pack of girls who would run up and start to give her hugs. She would smile but still kind of cower and cringe. I guess that was like the adult version of, “Don’t talk to me until I’ve had my coffee.” In her case, “Don’t talk to me until I’ve put my lunch pail away in my cubby.”

I’m glad Zoey and Haley have friends. Haley has her friend Paige. After dropping Haley off at preschool I sometimes see her holding hands with Paige on the playground, another move I didn’t do with my buddies. Now I might. Just kidding, but only because when I do my wife doesn’t like it. Just kidding again. At Haley’s birthday party, Haley and Paige were in friendship heaven. They were running around scream-laughing, holding hands, and just having a blast together.

Then the next week at school they didn’t want to be friends anymore.

Then the next day they were friends.

Then they weren’t.

Guys don’t do that. We just “hug it out bitch.”

There was a period of time I thought I would be single forever, never able to get a girl. I was going to be a grumpy old man who hated people. I am still a grumpy old man who hates people, but I have three amazing girls, two of which run to the door for hugs when they hear my car pull into the garage. Then one who cooks, or “cooks” In ‘N Out or pizza, dinner.

I’m very happy and thankful to have these girls in my life.

What proofs do you have that you have daughters? Or sons? Or both? Or that you, too, have crazy, awesome kids? Leave a comment and share your stories!

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