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Monthly Archives: March 2013

Sometimes, The Words Ring Hollow (For my brother)

(This post is therapy for me)

Even though it was many, many years ago, I still remember the words as clearly as if I had just heard them yesterday.

“God heals you in one of two ways, he takes the pain away from you, or he takes you away from the pain.  Either way it goes, he makes the pain stop.” , he said.

Deacon Harris’  words drifted up to me from the small makeshift bed in the back of the van as I drove.   You could feel the pain that mated  with his speech as each word, slowly, purposefully tumbled over his teeth; eventually breaking the forced, awkward “non monotony”  of the sounds of Sade songs wafting from the cd player.  The music was ill placed, but it helped me to ignore the obvious fact that here was a dying man lying behind me.

His words refused to let me wallow in the self imposed sanctuary of my  denial.    He said it again, but this time he used my name to get my attention.

“Ty, did you hear me?  I believe that God heals you in one of two ways, he takes the pain away from you, or he takes you away from the pain but you know, either  way it goes, he makes the pain stop.”

I nodded my head, and said, “yeah” over my shoulder; too scared to look back at him.  I didn’t want the question to go into the territory of what I believed  because at the time, his words rung a bit hollow to me.   I couldn’t see past his impending death, and I questioned how a man in that had been in that much pain for so long, could be talking about healing.  Nothing had worked so far….Death was just……death.  No HEALING.

“Good.” he said.  “That’s important.”

So, with that, we plodded on.  I took great care to avoid as many bumps as possible, lest the sound of moans and grunts from behind me remind me of the frailness of my cargo.  Sade continued to be our riding partner.

Across the years since, I would often wonder  why he decided to say this to me twice on that ride.   Maybe he knew that he wasn’t going to be around much longer and wanted to make sure that I understood that he thought he’d be in a better place.  Maybe he just said it to make himself feel better, or maybe he felt that I would need to be equipped with this knowledge to help me down the road.

Fast forward to Sunday, March 24, 2013, 7:35 a.m.

My cell phone rings.  I answer.   The voice was  Dale’s.

Within it, I felt something that I had  never felt in that voice before.  There was a  seriousness that leaped over miles and miles of cell phone signal to grab me by the shoulders and shake the remnants of the night’s sleep away.

“Tyrone…What are you doing?” This strange/familiar/strong/weak/ brave/scared  voice said.

“Nothing much, man.  Just watching some t.v.  Everything cool?”  I knew things weren’t.  It was too early for  things to be “cool”

“Mama just called me.” He said.   “She said that Foot is might not make it.”

There was that shaking coming across the lines again.

Foot is my brother.  Well, his name is actually Sidney, but  for some reason, the name Foot was given to him and I guess he never disputed it enough,  so it stuck.  Foot had been battling some serious diseases for the last few years.  Over a year ago, the doctor had given him 6 months to live.  On Sunday, we were at over 14 months since that proclamation.  It hasn’t been all smooth sailing since though.  Between then and now, there had been many  ambulance pickups, e.r. visits,  long hospital stays and even doctors telling us that we needed to go ahead and call all of the family to town.  Each time, Foot would bounce back, like some kind of bad penny that just kept turning up.  I remember, the last time the doctors told us he might not make it back home, we were all gathered in his hospital room.  He was talking with us; joking like he always did, when he looks around in sudden realization and says,  ” Hey….All of ya’ll are here???  Is something’  happenin’  that ya’ll ain’t tellin’ me ’bout?!?!”  He went home a few days later;  Foot, the bad penny.

The voice on the other end continued to talk.  “I’m on my way down there now.  The rescue squad people are  there working on him, but Mama says it don’t look good.”

(Come on bad penny!…….come on bad penny!)

“Call Daphne and let her know, but don’t call the house, Mama is pretty tore up.  If you have to call, call Bobby.  He’s over there.” he said.  Daphne is Foot’s daughter.

“Ok, Dale.  I’ll make a few calls and I’m on my way down.  Don’t worry, dude…Everything will be cool.  I’m on my way in a few minutes.”

I hung up the phone. Sharon was the first call.  She had literally just pulled out of the driveway on her way to church, so she was back in the house in no time.  I told her about the conversation and she said that she would call Daphne for me so that I could get ready to get on the road.   So, I went upstairs to get ready.

I called Bobby.  He said that he got there about the same time as the paramedics did.  Despite my hopes that his interpretation of events would be different from Dale’s, they weren’t.  Things were not good.

He said that they had been working on Foot for over 30 minutes.  Nothing was working.  They had tried everything and they continued to try.  Then he said something that really brought things home to me.

“I want to tell them to stop trying; that it’s not going to work…..but I can’t tell them that.”

Bobby, the strongest one of ALL of us in my opinion, said it wasn’t going to work…..The shaking that came across the lines was worse this time.  It shook me with the force of a full fledged gorilla.

(COME ON…BAD PENNY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  COME ON BAD PENNY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  JUST FREAKIN’ COME ON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

I got dressed, packed up the car, and Sharon and I started on our way.  The plan was to pick up Daphne and the girls and head down.

8:21 a.m

Bobby calls again..  “Man…..they just pronounced him dead…..”

It felt like the hand of God reached down and pulled every bone from my body,  squeezed my lungs until I couldn’t breathe and forced tears out until they  burned in my eyes.  I forced myself to finish the drive to Daphne’s house….all the while steeling myself up for the next phase.

I got out of the car, and walked to Daphne’s door. I knocked.  Out poured her and my two little nieces; bags of books and toys in hand.  We got the little ones settled into their spots in the back seat and put Daph’s bags in the trunk.

It’s kind of a blur, and I can’t remember who  told Daphne, but I do remember looking into the back seat and seeing her shoulders heave up and down.  I suppose, that God used his other hand to do the same things to Daph that he did to me.  Her pain spread across the back seat like wildfire and soon the little ones were crying too.  I decided it would be best to go inside and talk, so we got out of the car and went inside.

The four of them all sat, huddled together on the couch, with their shoulders rising and lowering with their sobs and  with their tears watering their shirts.  Our family had never been so closely touched by death before, so I let them deal with it on their own terms for a while.  Then, I knelt in front of them. with my mind overflowing with thoughts and stories and analogies and various witticisms and none of them seemed like they would work.  I decided to just start talking and let whatever would come out…just come out….And that’s EXACTLY what happened.

“Girls…..you know, God heals people  in one of two ways, Sometimes, he takes the pain away from them, sometimes he takes them  away from the pain.  Either way it goes, he makes the pain stop.” .

I smiled a bit on the inside. There was my answer as to why I was told that so many years ago!     God used Deacon Harris to plant something in me that I would use to console my family during my own brothers death.  Oh God, my God…..infinite in all your wisdom.

I used that analogy and others over the last few days each time bringing a small piece of understanding to those I share them with.  Heads would nod in approval.  Eyes would be wiped with understanding.  Now, I I wish I could say that I’m so strong that I don’t need them for myself, but that’s not the case.  Each time I get the chance to say it, I draw a little bit of strength for myself and I’m able to hold on just a bit longer.  I realize that I (and my whole family) will be tested over the next few days, but I take strength in knowing that God set some wheels into motion oh so many years ago….We’ll be just fine.  

Rest in peace, Sidney (Foot) Davis  Sutton.  I miss you, Big brother.

 

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A Message to Other Daddies

Yesterday, someone asked me why I make this thing so personal…..

First, understand that every time I write, I try to put a small piece of my heart in it…EVERY TIME.   What I lack in writing prowess (and that’s a LOT) , I try to make up for in pure access to my soul.  I do it because I have this weird sense that if I keep things honest enough, if I keep them pure enough, and that  if I can address my own pitfalls, that maybe I can help someone else skip right over the ones in their path. I guess, you can say that ultimately, I do this to leave a positive mark on the world.  I know that sounds corny, and cliche’  and all that, but it’s the absolute truth.  

I never want to come off as too “soapboxy”  so I try to tie things to my experiences…my shortcomings…my failures.  The cool thing is, though, that I equally  try to share my successes, my triumphs, my overcomings (Is that even a word?)….Sometimes I try to do it with humor, sometimes I try to attach as much of my own pain to the page as my meager skill set allows.  Whatever I feel, I try to share with you….No holds barred.  ‘Cause we’re family.

And THAT’S why I make this thing so personal….

Now that that’s out of the way…. (whew) let it be said that I am far from an authority on the perfection of the art of fatherhood.   I am FAR from a perfect dude.  I ASSURE you, that I was not born with the knowledge of the power of my words. 

Knowing that,  here’s a bit of soul baring….a bit of a confession.

As ashamed as I am to admit it,  on more than one occasion, I spoke to my daughters out of pure anger, without weighing the potential carnage that my words could deliver upon their mental landscapes.  There was a time that I did not understand the pure, raw force with which words could be delivered.  I now see that they can be delivered with the unwavering hand of a skilled surgeon, or dumbly wielded like a blunt instrument in the hands of a mindless brute.  Either way, without proper temperance, the damage can be great.

When I DID finally begin to grasp at a few straws of understanding, it was not a realization that came with any comfort, THAT’S for sure.  My eventual epiphany came with fierce, prolonged and brutal realization.  Making a long story short, (or shorter than my typically long winded nature allows) …It hurt.   I mean it HUUUUURRRRTTTTT.   I began to realize that my little girls held my words in the highest regards, and in return for this trust, I was sometimes planting the seeds of self doubt, self loathing, and low self esteem in the fertile fields of their minds.  All because I didn’t take  a few moments to gather myself BEFORE dealing with them.  They placed within my hands the power to either help them realize their limitless potential or stifle their growth, and I was unknowingly pouring wet cement on the flowers of their minds.  It took me a while,, but I’ve learned a very simple fact : A few minutes of unbridled anger can equal a lifetime of pain.  No matter how little math you’ve taken in your life, you can see that that equation doesn’t balance.

Now, allow me to insert a bit of a caveat.  My love  for my girls was, and still is, without question…only my knowledge was  suspect.

That being said, though, it really didn’t matter where my allegiances rested.  The results of my actions did.  The effects of my words and my actions always outweighed the grandest of intentions.  There were times that I went into my dealings with the girls like a mad bull in a China shop filled with red vases…and delivered my words with just as much skill.  Before I had even the slightest of inklings of what I was doing, I saw faces drop, jaws shake, tears break free, and a bit of glimmer in their eyes fade to nothingness.

Yeah, sometimes, in my zealousness to prepare my daughters for the “real world”, and the harshness of it, I would swing for the fences when I should just hit a sacrifice fly.  Sometimes sugar coating things is not a bad thing.  You know, I think all of us Dads are like that to some extent.  Sometimes,we forget the power of our words, and we wind up doing harm and wreaking a havoc that  far outlasts the echoes of our voices.

My  Mama always says, “When you know better, you do better.”    Consider this my helping you to know better; not as some guy reading about it from some psychology book, but from someone that understands what it’s like to be in the trenches, and sometimes feels COMPLETELY overwhelmed and ill prepared… just like you.   Now, all that I ask is that now that YOU know better, that you balance that equation from earlier…..DO BETTER.  

Don’t worry, though, all of this stuff  is just between us,  and I’ll never admit that I don’t have all the answers if you don’t, but together, maybe we can come up with more than just “Man”d-aids and we can all make a Positive mark on our worlds…..  I’m here to help.  Scout’s honor.

 

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Models, Media and Meaningful Motivation – Part Three: Meaningful Motivation

Meaningful Motivation

(Disclaimer:  I am NOT a psychologist, nor have I ever played one on t.v.  I could probably USE one though.)   

Okay, so I’ve been thinking about this stuff…you know, the effect that media has on the mindscapes of our daughters and I’ve determined  two things:  1)  It’s pretty doggone bad.  (Signed, Captain Obvious)   and  2) It ain’t going nowhere. (Co-signed, Sergeant Overly Simplified.) Those things said, I believe that there is no one stop answer for it.  On the opposite end, though, I do think there are some steps that we can take.   Here’s my take.

We could always wait for all of the executives in radio, print, television and music  to suddenly have an epiphany and decide that it’s more important to protect the ideals, morals and self esteem of our daughters than it is to make an extra dollar so they can afford the latest model Bentley that hits the showrooms.  (Talk about run on sentences…..whew!)  Yeah…YOU hold your breath on THAT one…I’m gonna go get a smoothie.

Ahhhhh….refreshing.

So, what are we left with?   The old saying of the best offense is a good defense jumps into my head. (Well, that and  who would win a fight between Superman and Gumby, but I digress…)  We have to develop the methods of instilling self reliance and  strong self esteem into them to help them defend against the unreachable and unsavory images that they are getting bombarded with..   It’s not like the arrows are ever going to stop coming their way, so the best thing to do is to give them thick armor to deflect them.  The trick is that an individual can’t  GIVE anybody self esteem or self reliance.  The best that we can do is to help them to REALIZE it for themselves, about themselves because, like most things, just telling somebody something doesn’t have the same effect on them as their experiencing it.  So we, as Daddys, have to motivate them to build their own sense of self esteem.  And sometimes, that requires a little  finesse, and as Bernie Mac said, “trickeration”.  Let me explain.

I like to use a term called meaningful motivation.  Okay, so what’s meaningful motivation?  Meaningful motivation is a term that that I use to indicate TRUE, GOOD  motivation,.  Trust me, there is fake, bad motivation.  ( You like how I just did that?  I did a comparison between true and good versus  fake and bad….pretty slick, huh?  Look at the big brain on Ty!)   Anyway, I digress…yet again.  To show you what I mean, and to appease my ADHD, we’ll give a quick example of  bad motivation.

When I was in basic training for the Air Force, I had a Training Instructor (T.I.) named Sgt. Blah, Blah, Blah.  (Did you REALLY expect me to give his name?)  Now, Sgt Blah, Blah, Blah was pure, unadulterated, unfiltered, concentrated evil.  He was almost comically evil.  I mean like arch nemesis evil.   His superpower was intimidating people…and leaking obnoxiously nasty gas when he walked  through the barracks.

We bumped heads.    We bumped heads a LOT.  He would always win, of course.  (One would think that I would’ve been smart enough to realize that he was in charge, and the deck was stacked against me winning, but nope.)

Whenever the head bumping would happen, he’d be right in my face, screaming, at the top of his lungs, all the while his  funny looking T.I., smokey the bear hat would karate chop me across the forehead as he leaned in to make his points.  And….as embarrassing as this is to say…as disturbing as it is to admit…sometimes…his tongue lashings….would be accented with….with…..with…….  hot,…. wet…..SPITTLE slowly running down my cheeks as I stood there at attention.,  THAT, dear readers was, in scientific terms…DA WORST.

Anyway, on the occasions when he wasn’t trying to impose his will on just me, he would wander around the barracks screaming at other people, and leaving behind the previously mentioned cloud of Gastric FUNK.  This was always fine with me…(the screaming at other’s part….not the funk part….THAT was ALWAYS disgusting.)  Now, I would LIKE to say that when he was going on his rampages, that we would stand up to him.  You know; put him in his place. Knuckle up….Show some MACHISMO!…However,  99.997% of the time, we’d do exactly what he said.  This phenomena can be broken down by the following (edited) words of a great modern day philosopher:

“Man, I got mind control over Debo.  He says “shut up  “, I be quiet…. but when he leaves, I be talking again”
Smokey- “Friday, circa, 1995

My mother once told me, “You can learn from a fool…you just have to know how to pick the knowledge from the foolishness.”  That said, how in the WORLD could Smoky’s line relate to what I’ve been talking about?  Well, in essence, it’s a brief commentary about bad motivation.  Sgt. Blah Blah Blah would tell us to do something.  We’d do it, but as soon as he left the room, we did whatever we felt like.  His motivation only lasted as long as he was there in front of us.  Our motivation to DO the job, even if it was something that would improve ourselves, or that we would eventually LEARN from, left the room when he did.  Fear is actually a bad long term tool for motivation. It’s like the short term memory of motivation.    So, what we have to do, is find motivation for our daughters that is meaningful to THEM.  I have a term that I use called H.A.R.P.  It stands for the four tenants for motivation  that I used in working with my daughters. (If I missed anything, feel free to let me know…….Add it to the list.  Just make sure you come up with a cool new acronym…it took me WEEKS to come up with H.A.R.P.)

1)  Heroes that look like her Find examples of women that have achieved successes in life that your daughter want to achieve.  If she wants to be a CEO one day, search the business journals for articles on female business women. Make sure they have lots of pictures.  Print them out and give them to your daughter. Talk about the path that the woman took to get to where she is.  Point out how your daughter can do it too.  Then, reach out to the people in the articles.  You may be surprised because they may just respond with a personal note to your daughter.  Once, I was looking for a mentor for a lady that wanted to start a give her info on starting a day spa.  I actually found her in a magazine.  I contracted her office, and told her about what the young lady was doing.  Long story short; she became her mentor.

2)      Attainable Goals- It’s got to be a goal that they can actually achieve.  Anything else can be a recipe for failure. Now, I’m not saying to give them something that is EASY, but rather, something that they can actually DO.

3)      Rewardable – What good is an accomplishment, if there is no reward at the end?  The funny thing about this is, it doesn’t have to, in fact, it probably SHOULDN’T be a physical reward.  It shouldn’t be things. What you want to do here, is to create a memory of a feeling; a memory of how the success felt, a memory of how it felt to put a smile on Dad’s face.  Our daughters take great pride in making us happy.  We need to take great pride in showing them that they have.

4)       Personal Pride– The motivation has to be something that is meaningful to your daughter.  It can’t be a goal that she reaches for someone else; not even you.   It has to be something that she would take pride in doing.  They also have to feel as if this is something that they are better at than anyone in the whole world.

I have a seven year old niece.  Right now, I’m doing this thing with her in which whatever she does, I tell her that she’s the best at it EVER.  Last week, she was the best “shoe tie-er upper” in the whole world.  Before that, she was the best “arm twirl in a circler” ever.  Before THAT, she was the best “peanut butter and jelly spreader-er” the world has ever seen!  Yeah, I know that it sounds silly,  but she’ll actually come to me now with new things that she can do because she’s developing a belief in her ability to DO things that she can be proud to show.  AND, she’s PROUD of herself.  It’s not a belief in what “Unka Ky” can do, but a belief that what she’s doing is special and important.

Best Crab walker-er EVER!

Best Crab walker-er EVER!

The end result, the most important aspect of our actions, and the big payoff of our efforts as Daddies  in this regard, however, will be to regain our voice as the one who helps shape our daughters’ sense of self worth.  We have to stop allowing the media to tell them where their value begins and ends and stop letting it  define who or what they are for them.  The power truly is in their hands but we have to help them to develop the strength to believe it for themselves.

Ty

 
 

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Daddy’s Doing Hair?!?!?!? (The Poem)

So, I’m having a bit of writer’s block, so, while waiting on my muse, I decided to share another piece of the puzzle that got me started on writing  Daddy’s Doing Hair?!?!?!  in the first place.  (Like I have a “muse”!  LOL) .  Anyway, when my girls were much younger, I used to do  their hair sometimes. I did it quite often actually.  (Okay, so I feel the need to adjust some expectations here.) I’ll be be honest….they weren’t very GOOD hairstyles.  At  BEST, they  probably looked they were done by some terrorist group that decided to take over the world with some ill conceived plot that involved sending little girls to school with messed up hairdos, but hey,  I tried.  Besides, I think, in the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t  really about the end result.  It really was all about the journey…the bonding.  

To me it was  enjoyable because it gave me a chance to bond with them on their level.  They seemed to get a kick out of it too, and from time to time they’ll still ask me to wash it for them .  Although I think it’s just because they’re being lazy.  Anyway, I wrote the poem below a LONG time ago to describe how it all went down. I’ll share it with you because you’re family.   I think I’m going to use it in a freestanding children’s  book to accompany the release of Daddy’s Doing Hair?!?!?  Enjoy and PLEASE let me know what you think.


I Like When Daddy Does My Hair

I like when Daddy does my hair

But I’ll never let him see…

The grins and smiles on my face that show

How much it means to me.

Instead,  I fidget and fuss and twist and turn

And slouch and make faces  too…

And sometimes I pout and cry and such

And even make a tear or two.

And I stomp, and I frown

And I cross my arms, and I give my maddest stare

But  in my heart, real deep, there’s  a secret…

lean close to hear

…………I kinda like it when Daddy does my hair

I like when Daddy does my hair,

Because he listens when I talk

About “dressesssss” and “bowwwws”  and  pretty stuff

And that doll that I want that can walk

And secret places and rain and spaceships too

And flowers and frogs and kites

And jellybeans, and tea parties, and clouds, and swings

And the monster s in my closet at night…

Shhhhhhhh…….

We talk about how I love to play dress up

With  colors…reds and  pinks and blues

and bicycles, and ponies, and caterpillars too

but mostly…. pretty bows on shoes

I know he likes to hear me giggle when we talk

‘Cause I’ve seen him try to hide,

his smiles behind his “Daddy” face

but  his smiles can’t stay inside.

I LOVE when Daddy does my hair,

And he’s getting better…I saw it…last night

‘cause now instead of two ponytails pointing straight up

At least ONE of them , points straight out…to the right.

 
 

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Models, Media and Meaningful Motivation – Part Two: Media

Media…

I talked just a little bit yesterday about the power of visual imagery in shaping girls’ perceptions of themselves, and we did a little experiment with the t.v..  This time, we’re going to talk a bit about NON visual imagery…and being that I’m the simple minded guy that I am…I always need examples. So, we’re going to do a little experiment with music.

So, all that said, this is what I want you to do.  Plug your headphones into your radio, and settle into listening to ANY popular Hip Hop/R&B radio station in your area; the more popular, the better.  ( I only chose Hip Hop/R&B, because that’s primarily what I listen to…..Well, that and talk radio and stuff like that.  I kinda like talk radio.  Okay, so overall, I’m pretty boring….sue me.)  Do this for an hour.  Just listen for any references to violence against women, sexual references, “baby mamas”, gold diggers, groupies  or references to women’s body parts and write them down on a notepad. (Also, keep in mind that this is PUBLIC radio…and the stuff that you DO hear has already been cleared as being “ok” by some censoring body(ies)).    Just like yesterday, use your own daughter as the measuring stick.  If it’s something that you wouldn’t want said about your own daughter to your face, write it down.   It shouldn’t take more than thirty minutes before your hand starts to cramp up from all the writing. Wanna know how I know?  I know ’cause I did it, and not because I sit at a keyboard and type all day and that my fingers get tired of doing actual WRITING.)  I walked away with this inescapable fact:  Even our own media ain’t necessarily our friend.

Now, I know that BET and R&B/Hip Hop stations aren’t the only media outlets that feed us negative stereotypes of females, and I don’t mean to single them out…not solely.  I also know that the musical stylings of other genre’s of music probably portray women in a negative light as well.  I ALSO don’t think it’s a “Black” thing…I think it’s simply a pig headed, chauvinistic, objectifying, self aggrandizing thing that spans all cultures.   I think that I I could safely bet that if I was a fan of Rock music, or Heavy Metal, that  I’d find the same messages in that music as well.  However, I try to only speak about my personal experiences on what I know and since it just so happens that I’ve always been immersed in the Hip Hop and R&B culture, that’s what comes out.

Now before you start getting all huffy, and  I start getting the hate mail about my  trashing Hip Hop and R&B let me share with you a piece from one of my earliest posts…one from when I first decided to write this book about raising my girls.

“… allow me to be the first to say that I’ve watched the videos…heck, I ENJOYED the videos. I’ve uttered the “B word”  and Ho out of both jest and anger.  I’ve talked junk about my conquests to my boys, and overall, I’m still a work in progress, but I think that if we are truly honest with ourselves we can work towards fixing this.  And since a reformed, renewed, revived, and restored former crackhead is the best to give advice about the dangers of using crack, and  why one should not smoke it, I offer up my insight in regards to not promoting disgusting, destructive, disingenuous, disheartening, degrading images for our lil girls. ”

See?  I pointed the finger at myself first.  I noticed early in the game where my error lied…..(laid?…heck……ANYWAY)  Yeah…I convicted MYSELF before I ever called anybody else out.  I found the mote in my own eye, so to speak.  I can’t really take any credit for the change of heart, though.  It really came from my girls.  True story…at first I used to doubt the whole adoption thing.  I wasn’t sure if I could do it.  It was tough.  But night after night, I would go into their rooms as they slept.  I’d kiss them on their foreheads whisper “I love you.” in their ears, and kneel at their feet to pray for them, and one night it hit me…These girls need somebody to protect them…and I that was the beginning of the change for me…I went from somebody that could call a woman a Ho, to someone who couldn’t stand the thought of it anymore.  (God can make dummies into geniuses, huh?)

Anyway, let’s get  back on task here.   (Besides, I can’t have you guys goin’ ’round thinking I’m some kinda softy that tears up at the thought of his daughters…I got my tough guy, street cred to maintain! )

I also know that  a lot of times, our music does offer  positive imagery as well.  Heck, our local R&B station here even plays Gospel music on Sunday mornings.  However, once again, I’ll quote someone from my past, “One well planned right don’t make up for a life full of lefts.”  Simply put, just because a drug dealer deals only a little bit of crack in the neighborhood, then hands out turkeys on Thanksgiving, doesn’t make him a hero…just a crack dealer with a marketing budget.   The end result is still a community getting destroyed.

So, this is what’s happening thus far.  Our daughters are already being told by the images that they see that they are..not skinny enough, not “elegant” enough,  not pretty enough and overall  just not good enough.  Then, to top that off, they’re being told verbally that they are only good for the use of their bodies and how they can benefit men.  I know…it was kinda eye opening for me too.

And don’t think that there’s a minimum age to start falling victim to this stuff I’ll put it in perspective for you…I have a 7 year old little niece ..She’s a very petite lil thing and is one of the lights of my world.   I’m constantly affirming her and her value and her worth to the world.  I try to make sure that she realizes how important she is and that her true value comes from within and not without.  That said, why, in the Yosemite Sam Hill  did she come to me one day and tell me that she was fat and that she needed to go on a diet?  I SWEAR I can pick the little girl up with one hand and spin her above my head like a basketball without even breaking a sweat.  (Trust me, that says a lot coming from a doughnut eating, remote control hogging, couch potato like myself, but that’s another story.)  Then, to top that off, they’re being told verbally that they are only good for the use of their bodies and how they can benefit men.

Okay, I think I’ve held you captive long enough for today.  And in the morning……we talk SOLUTIONS!  (Done in my best Donkey from Shrek voice).Tomorrow, we talk SOLUTIONS!

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2013 in children, humor, life, parenting, Uncategorized

 

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Models, Media and Meaningful Motivation – Part One: Models

Models

 “…. And the idea is, these men are so important and so powerful, and these women conversely are so dime a dozen… that they don’t matter, they’re just eye candy, they’re worthless.”

Actor, poet and playwright

Sarah Jones 

For right now, we’re going to talk about IMAGES;  just what can be SEEN.  We’ll tackle other stuff later.  Now, to start it off, we need to do a bit of an experiment.  I’ll never ask you to do anything that I wouldn’t do or haven’t already done myself, and this is the case this time.  I did this, and was shocked by what I learned.

That said, I have a challenge from me to you.  It’s actually divided into two parts, but we’ll do the other part in a day or two when I post part two of this post. part two .  Thisa is what I want you to do.  One day, sit and watch some music videos on T.V.  Tune in to one of those music television stations. (For me, it was BET).   I want you to mute the volume and I want you to try to keep count of how many degrading images of women you see in the course of one hour.   It’s easy to figure out what you might consider to be demeaning.  Anytime you see a woman in a video, ask yourself, “Would I want to see my little girl doing that?”  If the answer is “No.” then chalk it up. (Keep this list.)

Now, here’s a bit of back story, in an earlier post (https://daddysdoinghair.com/2013/01/17/chapter-1-what-is-this-book-and-how-to-use-it/) , I referenced a conversation that I had with a young sister regarding her goals in life.  If you recall, I said that it seemed like her sole mission in life was to become a video vixen.  She wanted to be just like the women that she saw in the rap videos because she equated the attention that they seemed to get with the attention that she longed for.   Now, I need you to lean in REALLY close for this one because I need you to really hear what I’m saying.  Ready?  Here it is:  That attitude  is screwed up!

First, let’s look at the most obvious effect.  I bet that if I could dip into a young girl’s mind regarding this subject, this is how I bet thought process would go:

1)      Hey, I see the girls in the videos….

2)      Wow, they must be REALLY popular…

3)      They get ALL the attention…

4)      I want to be like that….

5)      But I don’t look like that….

6)      Maybe if I dress like that, the guys would like me, and I’d get attention too.

We could go further, but I think we’ll marinate right here for now.  If you look at it, what’s happening here is that these little girls are beginning to view their sense of self worth solely by how men view them.  They begin to think of themselves in terms of what their bodies have to offer and so, they begin to objectify themselves.  Did you catch that?  If they see this enough,  after a while, the videos won’t have to tell them that they are just objects any more, they will tell that to THEMSELVES.   This, fellow fathers, is plain old, basic, run of the mill, everyday low self esteem.  ANYTIME someone allows their self worth to be determined by how others see them, it’s because they don’t value themselves enough.  It’s just that simple.  This is a huge problem in itself, but it also leads into another problem.

To put it bluntly, most music videos and magazines now promote a slightly “Idealized” idea of beauty.   I really hope that, during your experiment, you proved me wrong, but I bet that you noticed that the majority of the women had long flowing hair, light complexions, flawless skin, impossibly perfect teeth and were perfectly proportioned.  Now, I know that when I did the experiment, none of the women in my family fit that description of beauty, so should I consider them as not beautiful?

Models are also often rail thin, showing our daughters an image of beauty that is, for the most part, unreachable without plastic surgery. In their minds, though, these are the people that they want to look like.  They don’t necessarily understand that these models and actresses work for companies with big budgets and teams of graphic designers that are pros at Photoshop.  It gives our daughters a false sense of reality, and to make matters worse, it’s a reality that they don’t fit into.

Now imagine that  you’re a eight or nine year old girl being shown constantly that  light complexioned, long haired, tall and slender, flawless skinned, perfect toothed (is that a word?) girls are the height of beauty when what stares back at you from the mirror is a dark skinned little girl with short curly hair,  thick lips, freckles, pimples, gapped teeth  and wide hips. (Or maybe you were like me with ears that didn’t quite line up properly…)  You can forget being a supermodel.  How long before you start to think you’re super ugly?  How would you compensate?  How do you make yourself more like the “pretty” women that you see?  What would you do to be one of them?  ( I learned to tilt my head JUST RIGHT when talking to people….no…really…I did.)

Talk about feeling like an outsider.

Next, we’ll talk about media, and then motivation….And maybe, just maybe, with your input, we can stumble across a solution that works.
Cheers!

 
 

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Daddy’s Little Girl (Interview 2)

As I mentioned at the beginning of an earlier post (Peurile), part of the process of prepping for the upcoming book, “Daddy’s Doing Hair?!?!?!?” was a series of interviews with women that discussed how their relationships, or lack thereof, affected them throughout their adulthood.  Some of these stories were heart wrenching, fellas…..seriously.  Others, like this one, although not the textbook example that we have grown to accept as Daddyhood, (I coined that phrase myself.  Cool, huh?You can use it…….for a dollar.) , it still shows how even if you can’t be there with your daughter PHYSICALLY, you can still be there for her and make a positive influence on her that will last a lifetime.  Distance is NO EXCUSE!

Daddy’s Little Girl

 I grew up living with my grandmother as an only child.  Both of my parents lived separately in NY.  I spent my school year in NC with my grandmother and a few weeks of the summer with each of my parents and my aunt.  Each of them would go school shopping for me.  My dad always drove me back to NC at the end of every summer with all the stuff they bought me during my summer vacation!  I always thought I was so special.  My daddy brought me home!!!  He was a star in my eyes!

Child support wasn’t as popular back then as it is now.  There was no court appointed amount that my dad had to pay.  My mom told him that she didn’t need anything from him, so he did whatever he could, when he could.  He sent about $100 a month to my grandmother and paid for anything I called and said I needed.  Girl Scouts, Cheerleading, 4H, school trips, you name it, I did it and he paid for it!  I was always proud to say my daddy sent me money!

As I got older, I promised myself, when I graduated from college, that I wouldn’t ask my dad for anything unless it had to do with major auto repair.  I never asked for birthday or Christmas presents either.  I stuck to my word for many years and I was very proud of that.  I didn’t want him to think that I was using him for his money.

I bought my 1st home a few years ago.  I asked my dad if he would help me with a few things.  He said, “Don’t you worry dear, I have been saving up just for this occasion!”  He took some vacation time and came to NC to help me move!  He bought all of my appliances and had them delivered and installed.  He also bought me an entertainment stand and put it together for me.  He bought groceries and household items for my fresh start.  He even fed my movers twice that weekend!  I still think he’s a star!  My friends love him and often ask when he’s coming back to visit.  I wish we lived closer to each other.  Sometime I just need a hug from my daddy…to make it all better.

He wasn’t around much for me growing up, but that’s partially my mom’s fault.  He was always there in my heart!  I’ve always been a daddy’s girl.  Even when my mom tried to convince me otherwise, I loved him!  In my eyes, he was golden and still is!

I don’t have any children, but I pray that if I have a little girl, she’ll have the same type of loving relationship with her dad as I do with mine.  There’s something about a man and his baby girl!  I’m a grown woman, but I’ll always be Daddy’s Little Girl!

K.B. (Raleigh, NC)

 
 

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