Friday, July 22, 2011

The Weight of your Words...

I had to be about five years old before I had ever noticed it. Before it dawned on me that our conversations weren't like most. That according to "snot-nosed" Craig, our dialogue seemed both weird and unusual. This epiphany came after hearing "Snot's" play-by-play full color commentation with "Pee-Pee" Johnson of our same circle. In my whirlwind of enlightenment, it was perhaps as baffling to them as opening a Capri-Sun pouch. To me though, our conversations had always been, on all accounts, as normal to me as watching Saturday morning cartoons in only my "tighty whities." It was all I had ever known. You see, our oddity was that our conversations always went the same way - ALWAYS! Almost as if it had been ordained by the Intergalactic Conversation Committee (ICC) on Earthly Salutations when they unanimously voted it in with the "brother" handshake and dap. It was something all to our own - almost as unflappable as my "tighties." It was my father telling me that he loved me...habitually!

No really. It's to the point where it keeps happening to this day. It's what we do and what I hope Snots and Pee-Pee picked up as adults. You see, even though my father didn't understand that bleached super hero undies were never cool, he did understand the power of his words. That his words carried a sort of weight - a weight given substance simply by our relationship. A weight so heavy that if yielded incorrectly, could be so heavy as to break our own jaw!

In understanding this power myself, I've come to several conclusions. The first is that we should always speak in Pee-Wee Herman voices because five years olds find it gut busting for some reason, and secondly, that I had to continue this tradition upholding the now generations long ICC declaration. I don't know but a child hearing their father tell them he loves them does something. It validates them and sets the stage for an understanding of what real love is. Don't deprive them of that. Tell them you love them and last but not your kids open up that Capri-Sun pouch. It's basically a Rubix cube for preschoolers and they're thirsty. Speak life in full color!

To read more please be sure to purchase a copy of my soon to be published book chronicling my life as a single father. Also, feel free to donate toward its costs if you so choose by clicking the donate button @ Thanks for taking this journey with me.

Miracles and Blessings


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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Summer Break - "Look Ma - No Class..."

Look Ma - No class! It's mid-summer and the pools are open, the grills have been broken in, and the air conditioning has no doubt began its seasonal overtime schedule! As a kid, I remember this time being a most joyous and magical time! Summer camps and freeze-pops along with chasing lightening bugs and late nights. While these pastimes are still around today, our children have the inclusion of many more cable TV options, the internet (well a faster one), and Nintendo's on steroids!

With all this though, I came across a recent study that seemed to spark up all this nostalgia once again. In it, I learned that this is the season where class (as in income status) was proven to be a huge factor in the educational advances of the students in each of these classes. What this study found was that during the year, no class of students exhibited a learning curve greater than the other. But, in the summer time, the advancements between the classes became quite apparent. Upon returning from these chlorine wading, lightning bug infested, and game overdosing binges, school children were given the same standardized tests as they took on the last day of school. What they found was that, on average, lower class students had lost ground and actually lowered their reading scores while the middle and higher class students experienced modest and highly marked advancements respectively. Advancements that put the lower class children at a habitual seasonal disadvantage - catapulting the upper classed students into talented and gifted distinctions that further set them apart from their peers. Advancements that later opened the doors for more opportunities seemingly unreachable to those same peers.

So...what was the difference maker? Was it the fact that just being categorized in a higher class made their kids smarter? Was it because they could afford the latest game consoles? Was it due to the varied types of chlorine the children swam in or perhaps the brand of freeze-pops they ate?


The difference was reading - that's it. On average, the higher the class, the more prevalent was the emphasis made on reading at home during this time. So apparently, money isn't as nearly magical as reading! I say, "Don't let the summer break handicap our children." Let's pass this wealth onto them because opportunities and a joyous future await! Don't be fooled. Class is in and this time, more than any, determines which class they belong to in the future.

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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Success - Switched at Birth...

The boy didn't have a fever and there were no visible bruises on his head - I checked. He also didn't misunderstand the question because it was explained. Yet, when questioned on what my boy wanted to do when he grew up, he answered in full illustration that he wanted to "jump off a roof with a trash bag!" While I often tell this story and you may have heard it before, the image of this always jars me as it doesn't seem at all plausible at ending positively! Since that time though, I've learned that at that very moment, success to him meant the achievement of a thrill - a possibly fatal one - but a thrill none the less.

Whether we'd admit it or not, the measure of success in life differs from person to person. Some associate it with wealth, others education, some a social plateau, and even more - fame. What this means to me is that success can be measured on a multitude of scales but where does it come from? How is the very idea of it birthed? More importantly though, how do we assist with cultivating a proper idea of success in our children to mean other than the perpetually promoted money, cars and clothes?

Growing up in a culture promoting such ideals, I learned that our culture portrays success differently from other cultures and from what history reveals it to be. Different from what the characteristics of the fruits of success actually resemble. I've also come to the conclusion that culturally, the idea of success in our youth has been, on all accounts, switched at birth. One that sets us on a path that, once achieved, leaves us empty and used with often fatal results. One that as parents, we need to recognize and correct if we ourselves should actually deem ourselves a success.

As we grow, we can't help but notice that our perspective of success changes. This is because we're exposed to more, the doors of opportunity open and/or close before us and we learn that what we first thought would buy us joy declines to do so. With that point, I argue that the birth of true success is in the acknowledged importance of one's true cultural legacy. Understanding that in the end, it's your positive contribution toward uplifting a culture that leads to fulfillment and true success.

So what does this mean? It means that as parents, success for us is communicating to our children what their legacy consists of. In addition, we must realize that the qualities that determine success are not simply IQ scores, talent, and class, but most importantly opportunity and environment. Realize people that WE are their environment and with enough effort, we can provide them with more than ample opportunity to have them - once it's all said and done - deem your efforts a success. I say let us first educate ourselves about what true success is and then provide our children with a full illustration of its fruit. Success switched at birth??? Check for bruises and let's get our babies back!

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