Friday, November 27, 2009

Competition...

You know friends, nothing gets me going like a little competition and it's that subject to which I'd like to concentrate today. You see, as a parent, I purpose the tool to teach my children how to conduct themselves in situations of both winning also losing, but most importantly to build their self esteem. It seems to me that exposing my children to the spirit of competition affords them the opportunity to experience, early on, many of the valuable lessons life has to teach.

With that being said, many studies have concluded that competition and keeping score should be excluded from the early childhood curriculum. It is to those studies I emphatically thumb my nose! If it hadn't been for fierce competition at an early age in my life (Glory to God) I wouldn't be the person standing before you today. Look at the facts people...I eventually went on to peak and win a city title for the 10 and under Tastycake Jr. Basketball Bullets! ** I poured in 6 points that day!

So how does one obtain such status you ask? For me, the evenings and weekends of my youth were filled with fierce competition thanks to my brothers. I remember times we'd play basketball from sun up until sun down and in between those times came Power Pad battles of epic proportions! It is my recollection that many a game had to be halted due to "fisticuff escalation." This because one of us couldn't hold our own in Contra or Jackal, or simply put, the intensity level in our head to head Techmo Bowl and Double Dribble battles ended in last second defeat!

As parents today, technology has ill afforded us the opportunity to sit on our laurels. The original nintendo is an artifact of the past and in a world where Guitar Hero and Fight Night rule, it is my responsibility to equip my seeds with those same lessons that catapulted me to greatness.

I challenge each and every parent to have the desire to have your children surpass all your hopes, dreams, and greatness. To have all mine become better than myself - that is success! So get involved and use competition as a tool to take them to the next level, build their self esteem, and oh...serve 'em a piece of humble pie when they snicker and challenge you to a battle in Guitar Hero! In the words of Grandma Klump "I ain't no easy win sucka!"

**Those 6 points scored in the pregame lay up line in no way counted toward the official score and therefore did not actually contribute to the victory in any way!

Bottom Line - Kids keep score when adults don't!
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Discipline...

Let me begin by first saying that I cannot publicly endorse butt whippings nor will I admit to or deny me participating in such, so from here on out I'll refer to the act as...lets say... "blacking out."

Example- If I went to the store and my child fits and makes imaginary snow angels in the middle of isle 6.  I might go home and "blackout." Or... I'm at home and my children, in unison, decide to use foul language to describe how they felt about doing their chores.  I might "blackout" three times!

Now that we've gotten the basic lingo needed to continue our discussion, I can tell you about the time a dear aunt of mine, bless her heart, "blacked out." It twas a sunny day in the country and I wanted to play with my neighbor friend who lived across the field.  Being only six or so, I'd never made that journey by myself and was told never to.  Taking that into account I asked my Grandfather who must have been half paying attention for permission and he said for me to go ahead.  I made my way across the field and had a rather enjoyable several hours.  Upon my return I was taken by surprise by the greeting of that dear aunt who asked nothing more of me then to pull off a switch from the plum tree out front.  "But I told Granddaddy!," I exclaimed.  He somehow did not recall our exchange. (blank stare)  My aunt to this day probably doesn't remember what happened next.

What she may remember though is her conversation when she came to.  I just don't...but I'm pretty sure it went something like she loved me and needed to teach me a lesson of what could happen when a little one sees fit to run blasé through the fields.

I've learned that as a parent, the most important thing you can do for your children is to discipline them and that includes sitting them down and explaining to them how they got into their current situation and have them repeat it back.  This allows them to take ownership of their actions.  Lastly, tell them you love them and how the "love they just felt" is nothing compared to the scenarios that could have happened otherwise.

Bottom line, discipline your children with love and never out of anger.  Proverbs says "Spare the rod, spoil the child." Now that book, I publicly endorse!


Monday, November 23, 2009

Dreams...

OK, so I woke up the other night in a cold sweat.  I couldn't tell if I was hot or cold.  I seemed to have lost all orientation of my whereabouts.  In total darkness, my heart rate was in decline but I could still hear it beating.  The last thing I remembered was being chased by the Cockatoo lady in an episode of Zoobilee Zoo!  To make matters worse, I was dressed up in a Lion suit and skipping more so than running!  If you've ever seen the show and can remember the theme song, you know the horror I've experienced.  What a nightmare!

Now pull yourselves together people, that's not the type of dream I'm referring to.  I want to focus on dreams defined as a condition or achievement longed for; an aspiration.  As a parent, I've taken note from those before me and found that it's important to allow my kids to dream and make visual representations of those dreams.  Allow them to see their faces in place of the Miley Cyrus' or Zac Efron's of the world (neither of whom's views I wholly endorse) - to see their names headlined in the articles.

To do this, I've recently implemented a tool in my household called...the dream board. Our dream boards are made of nothing more than white board decorated with colored construction paper and stamped with magazine and newspaper clippings of their dreamed futures.

The thing is that it didn't take anytime at all to take pics, have them cut them out, and let them have at the periodicals.  What I'm banking on is that their dreams becoming visual may someday turn into a tangible reality.  I would only caution that proper supervision be provided.  One of them cut out my face and pasted it over a Doodlebop! Currently neither of them have confessed.   This in no doubt contributed to my loss of sleep that week!

Bottom line... my nightmare was worth their dream.  Don't be afraid-it's worth the chance...take that chance and don't say you never had the chance.



Friday, November 20, 2009

Intentions...

A short walk down to my neighborhood pond with the kids one summer evening yielded us the opportunity to see the miracle of life at work within it.  We saw birds flying over, small fish, tadpoles, and even a crane nestling in between the cattails.  For me, the way the water ripples over the surface always gets me thinking of the “butterfly effect."  It’s the idea that one butterfly could eventually have a far-reaching ripple effect on subsequent historic events.  Likewise, it’s interesting to me how the effortless toss of a tiny pebble can set in motion the disruption of the ponds entire surface.

Relatively, as parents, it’s our responsibility to provide our kids with the understanding that everything they do, every decision they make, can eventually have that same far-reaching effect on their future.  Evidence of this truth can be found cemented in stories from the prison yards to the graves and conversely from the Oval office to the pulpit.

As we stood leaning against the fence, my oldest was thrilled to see a small frog making its way up the grassy bank just within her grasp.  “Can we take it home?” she asked?  “Sure, but only for a little while, it needs to be at the pond with the rest of its frog friends,” I said.  Eagerly they ran home and searched the house to find their old Dora the Explorer insect kit - complete with a clear vented case perfect for such an occasion.  Once they returned I explained to them how they must treat it.  “Keep it in the case, and out of the sun.”

I must say that the kids did as they were told.  After a few hours, I suggested that we carry the frog back down to the pond to release it.  They agreed…although reluctantly.  We returned back to the same spot as before.  Still being rather close to the street, I intended to put him closer to his “family” by tossing him into the pond.  We all watched it fly through the air and belly flop land with such force as to cause a massive ripple worthy of a tadpole tsunami!  “2 points-score one for Dad!” I said, including a double fist pump!  We waited for it to swim away.  It never did.  I presided over my first funeral that day.

Bottom line, “the path to destruction is often paved with good intentions.”  Be careful and note that your intentions, however good, should be taken into account with the possible consequences of not just you, but all others involved.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Encouragement...

Hey Followers,  I'm back and like the title of this blog indicates, I'm encouraged!  I'm encouraged for many reasons...well four to be exact!  That happens to be the number of followers I've gained since my initial post!  Shouts out to you all!

OK so what exactly is encouragement really?  It's defined as "the expression of giving approval and support; boost: the act of giving hope or support to someone."  Reading that definition gave me the opportunity to look back over my own life and access how I've been encouraged.

My earliest remembered form of encouragement came when I was just a young whippersnapper.  I might have been 5 or 6 and the question was posed..."What do you want to be when you grow up?" My Aunt must have asked me during some point of a "3-2-1 Contact" episode because I blurted out...uh..uh...a Professor!  I never really wanted to be a professor, I think I just wanted to rock a lab coat but it was too late -my fate had been sealed!  For the next 15 years my Aunt called me "The Professor" every time she saw me. It wasn't until college that I got up the courage to tell her the truth.  This after I'd gotten enough of my lab coat fix during Chem 1 and had to be forced into it for Chem 2.

You see, being the young lad I was, I took her attempts at encouraging me as an interrogation until I realized that some people were never asked that question.  Really!

Now as I enter the classroom of my oldest boy I see pictures and writings of what each and every student wants to do when they grow up.  The teacher posed the question to them as a project. "What do you want to do when you grow up?" - Most of the boys said professional sports stars, some teachers, and one lone child said a Doctor.  I was proud of that child.  That was not my child.  Mine said "To jump off the roof of his house with a trash bag" -attached to a full color animated graphic!  Distraught, I figured I'd redeem my parenting outlook and ask my princess who came through with a "veterinarian."  Sweet!  I should have stopped there because my youngest said a "tiger!"

The bottom line people is that you should be careful how you pose your questions, never give your child an opportunity to watch backyard wrestling, and that positive encouragement goes a long way in ones life.  It is my belief that my use of encouragement in the lives of my children will greatly impact their future.  It is true that their minds are as clay and we as parents must boost them with hope and approval to assist them with their own growth into becoming successful contributors of their generation- not just consumers!  


My savior said  "Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith."

So encourage your children and speak their dreams into their lives.  For me, I'll be addressing my children as such...Dr. Mason, WWE Superstar, and to my youngest..."Go get em' Tiger!"  I'm proud of them all.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Inspiration....

Welcome all to my first blog!  I was never really into blogging but lately I've been inspired to do so.  Personally, I've always looked at blogging as the modern day "message in a bottle," meaning it's pretty much a toss up on who actually reads what you have to say.  In movies, I've seen it used as a last resort for some helpless sap stuck on an island - their only hope for rescue written in desperate diction on whatever medium available.  They usually roll it up, place it in the bottle, and cork it.  Next, they give it the "ole heave-ho" into the ocean.

I mean seriously people, do you know how far you'd have to toss that bottle to get it out pass the tide and if you were somehow strong enough to toss it far enough, it'd most likely hit a rock and shatter.  But humor me and say it makes it, they still won't be able to find them...but I digress.  Even though my apprehension toward blogging has its merits I do see the principle behind it.  The principle is one of hope.  Hope for a better tomorrow, hope that they themselves and future generations will have more options (not just coconuts to eat), but a better way of life. It seems their dire circumstances inspired them to attempt such methods and so here I stand with them...inspired.

With all that being said, I think it prudent to explain why and how I was inspired to create the blog "Chronicles of a Single Father." For me, it's  a way to pour into the lives of that unsuspecting person walking on the beach.  It's only fair, I've popped the cork on many a bottle in my day! (OK, THAT CAME OUT WRONG) What I meant was that so many before me have poured into me and I only hope to carry that on to help others in my situation benefit and continue the legacy of excellence started before me.

It all began with the suggestion of someone very dear to my heart.  Someone who thought that my story should be told because no one hears about the experiences of young black single fathers raising their seeds.  Single mothers YES, but dads... not so much.  I guess that makes my story rare if nothing else.  In this world, rare means valuable and it's the value you place on yourself that determines who you become.

My value came from the late nights and sweat from my grandmother in the back kitchen of a restaurant for 40 years.  The start of a trash company by my grandfather with only a basket and a mule, and the strength and determination of my father to NEVER allow me to "touch that trash."  It's those things that inspire me.  It wasn't that touching trash was beneath me to him (because I was always tasked to take it out), but to propel me in a direction of thinking past what his own possibilities and options were.  These among others you'll learn has made me the person you see today..still here...still standing...and attempting to continue that legacy of excellence.  I do hope you enjoy!