RSS

Tag Archives: self esteem

Filling up the Holes

Tees Bday Post largeTHIS POST WAS TEE APPROVED…(but without her approval)
(Oh…and she MEANT that I Was 29…not that SHE was 29.  That would be strange.)  

 Over the years since I had my daughters, I’ve often thought about life, death, legacy,  what’s really important and deep stuff like that.  (Hey…I’m a deep kinda guy.)…but, it would always leave me with a BANGIN’ headache and no answers,  so I would kind of just place it on the back burner until another situation came up that would put me in one of my Prince listening, dark room sitting, meaning of life pondering moods. 

One of those times came when my brother died almost a year ago and it left me with one big question that I’ve been internally debating ever since.

What exactly is legacy?

     It ain’t as simple as one would think. Well, it kinda IS, but  there’s a lot of stuff that muddies the subject for us.  It took me a LONG time to sort through it, but I think I can bring some clarity.  Through it all, I hope that  I can help some of you benefit from my ignorance so that you don’t have to go through it.  So hang with me, and I’ll try to shed some light on it or, more colorfully,   like one of my friends from my Air Force days used to say, “…throw some dirt in that hole”.  

     What I discovered is that as men, we often place such a huge value on providing for our families financially and materially, that we leave  ourselves with almost no energy to provide for them mentally and spiritually.   We sometimes worry so much about getting that hot, new toy,  or the latest Jordans, or the newest video game system (Okay…maybe that one was more for ME than the kids…but you get the picture.  DON’T JUDGE ME!)  when in fact, our time and attention is the MOST important thing that we can do for our daughters.  I now look at it like this…”If I can buy it, it will  eventually be useless…buy if I can INSTILL it, it will last forever…..You can’t run out of character.”

So in a nutshell, be careful not to fall into the trappings of giving your daughters STUFF.  YOUR time is one of the few things that no one else can give her and that can never be replaced.  Simply put, once it’s gone, there’s no getting it back.  That makes it valuable beyond measure.

When I first adopted the girls, we would sometimes go to a coffee shop together just to hang out.  I would get some kind of foo foo latte or something, and the girls would get what we affectionately called a “moo- moo steamer” or, plainly put, a steamed milk with flavoring in it.  We would sit there and I would read a newspaper and they would  pretend to read as they sat across from me.  One of my biggest regrets in regards to them, is not doing it more often.  I can remember looking across the table at them as they “read” but gosh…it sure would be nice to have a LOT more memories of it, but, as I said…you cant get time back.

So, the keys?  Share your time, and make good use of the time you share with them.  Here are a few ideas that I think would be great to do with your daughters.

1) Leave work  sometimes and pick her up from school “just cause”.  Go see a cartoon at the movies or maybe just go for a nice long walk and talk about life.

2)  Deliver flowers to her school for no reason.

3) Have lunch with her at school.  (That is IF you can still fit in those little tables….Let me tell ya, years of eating like the government would be making it illegal tomorrow made sitting in them chairs one  hecukva experience for yours truly.)

4) TELL her how important she is to you as often as you can.

5) Take her fishing.  (I wish I had pictures of when I first took my girls fishing on the pier.  It was HIGH-LARRY-US  and they absolutely LOVED it.  They STILL love to go.) Yes, I DO know how to spell hilarious…but EVERYTHING is better when spelled phonetically.

6) Take funny faced pictures with them.

7) Two words:  Pillow Fights.

8) Take her  kite flying. My daughters STILL talk about how I took them kite flying.  To them , it was the most amazing thing in the world, but  if I describe it, I’d call it “Daddy running around a field with a kite in his hand while they held the string.”

9) Hold her hand as often as you can.  There will be a time when you wont be able to anymore.

10) Listen to her.  Even though she may be little…she still wants to know that she’s important enough to get your attention.

In my mind, the litmus test is this:  “When I’m no longer here…and my girls are describing me to their children….what words will they use?”    I think of that…and then act accordingly.

BAM!  That’s some high quality dirt that I  just threw in that hole!

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

So Many Questions, So Little Time…

Fat Ethan Approved

Hey…I COULD tell you that I never look for advice, but that would be a lie.  That said……

Over the years, there were several instances in which my daughters would come to me and tell me that other students in their classes were cheating.   EVERY time, I would tell them basically the same thing,” It doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing.  WE DON’T CHEAT.  If you don’t get as good a grade as them, that just means that you need to study harder.  We go about things the right way. ”

But now I wonder, if by holding them to a higher standard than some of their classmates, was I tilting the playing field against them?  Was I forcing them to play the game according to a set of rules that very few others were playing by?

I mean, I understand the lofty goal of taking the high road, doing the right thing, manning (or in their case “girling”) up, being a stand-up kind of guy so on and so forth, but is that type of idealism DEAD?  Is it wrong to even teach it?

Is it just me, or does it seem that cheating has become more and more a part of the American mindset over the years?  Is it still true that cheaters never win?  Or have the cheaters taken over the game to the point where we all have to cheat at it just to compete?

Case in point, let’s look at all of the cheating scandals that have come to light over the last couple of years:

1) Harvard:  http://nyti.ms/1i4FZ3N
2) Air Force: http://cnn.it/1m87TLX

Sure, these people got CAUGHT, but the bigger story lies in the question of whether or not they only STARTED cheating in their current situations, or is it more likely that they cheated to get TO that situation?  How about those that didn’t get caught.?  I’m sure that if we knew the whole story, the numbers would indicate that it is much more widespread (and accepted?) than we thought.  I mean nowadays, cheating people out of money is almost considered a viable biz practice.

Does this lead to a bigger conversations regarding cheating within/between large corporations?

Anyway, I was just curious as to what you guys think of this?  Is it just my imagination?

( Sorry about all the questions today.  Chalk it up to the 5 cups of coffee coursing through my veins atop and sending my natural ADHD into overdrive.)

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

My knowledge for the day.

The rule is that I’m going to keep this one short n sweet.  Well, actually, it’s more like a suggestion…’cause, well… you know how I am.

ANYWAY, my mother once told me “You can learn from a fool….you just need to know what to throw away and what to keep.” , So I always try to learn something from everybody that I interact with.  Some make it easier than others.

So,  yesterday I was having a conversation about love and acceptance and the like…and my friend broke it down to me as simply as I have ever heard it.  She simply said :

“I love you should  never have “buts”…it should  only have “ands”.”

Think about it.

See?  Short n sweet.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

St. John vs The Bootlegger

I know that the majority of my writing is about fatherhood, but I’m going to devote this post to motherhood….more specifically, my mother.

Now before we get into this, let me explain (again) the geography  of my upbringing.  On one side of my house was a church.  It wasn’t just ANY Church.  It was St. John Missionary Baptist Chuhch.  (Yeah…I know I misspelled “chuhch”, but that’s how we say it in the country.  Say it slow…you’ll get it.)   If I sit quietly, my mind will still let me hear the sound  of all of the heels tapping against that old wooden floor when the choir sang.  Even though I’ve moved on in life, have lived in MANY places and have been a member of many churches, I still call that place my home church. (See? Even without thinking about it….u said it like “chuhch, didn’t you?  Just admit it!)

Now, on the OTHER side of my house was a bootlegger.  (For those that are unfamiliar with the term, a bootlegger is one that either  a) makes homemade liquor or b) sells homemade liquor that they buy from someone else .  I’m sure, that in some places, there may have been an option “c) Buys liquor from the stores and resells it”, but hey, we were in a poor area and selling the fancy, schmancy, high highfalutin’  rust free, store bought stuff with its FDA safety regulations and quality inspections and things like that took MONEY.  Besides….iron is good for ya, right?  So the rust made it healthy.  ( I have a similar philosophy about how you can eat as much as you want and as long as you eat it fast, the calories cant stick. too….sue me.)

So, on any given day, I could either see a bunch of staggering drunks drowning their hopelessness in  mason jars filled with homemade liquor; tinted red with flakes of rust from some back woods still or I could see people  filtering into the church to look for hope when they were otherwise surrounded by bleakness.

It all painted a pretty curious picture of the world for a kid like me.

But to my mother, it was pretty cut and dry.  If I wasn’t suffering from Ebola, scurvy or rickets ( And you thought I wasn’t paying attention in Health class, DIDN’T YOU, Mr Ramseur???) ………..I would be going to church.  It wasn’t  JUST Sunday morning church either.  There was Sunday School, Sunday Service,  prayer meetings, revivals, Vacation Bible School, Youth Choir practice, usher board meetings (She was also the president of the Usher Board at one time, so guess who also had to usher?) ,and so on and so forth.   So, church attendance was pretty much the rule of the house.  And try as I might, I never figured out how to fake ricketts, so I found myself in the pews…….a lot.  Now don’t get me wrong, I didn’t always pay attention….and sometimes, being that we lived DIRECTLY next door, I could sneak out and go home for extended periods of time and sneak back in without her knowing

But the fact of the matter was, Mama, in the only way that she knew how, ( and in a wisdom that she didn’t even know she had) was exposing me to hope when there was nothing but sheer hopelessness just on the other side of the house.

Mama was fighting for us…and we didn’t even know it.

All those cumulative weeks, and weeks, and WEEKS, and W-E-E-K-S of church that I was FORCED into gave me a belief that even though my CIRCUMSTANCES said that  I was poor, that they didn’t control who or what I could become.  It helped me to understand that even though many of those near us had given up, that I could still have hope for a brighter tomorrow, and when tomorrow came, if it wasn’t brighter, that I could continue to make THAT today’s tomorrow brighter.  She taught me pride that even if I didn’t have the best clothes,  (remind me to tell you about pants with rings around the ankles), that I could keep what I had nice, clean and pressed and be proud just the same.    It taught me that even though there was a den of despair just a ditch jump away one side of the house, that as long as I had faith, and if I put my time in,  that I could strive to be something greater than that; that I didn’t have to subscribe to the hopelessness there.

Faith can  trump common sense, and sometimes…you should LET it.

I have to say that I’m grateful for where I’m from.  I’m grateful that I had a mother that forced me to see a better way; not BECAUSE of me or because of what I could do,  but DESPITE me and irregardless to what I did.

Now,  I’ll admit…I do find myself drinking out of a mason jar from time to time, and I’ll even “pour a sip out for the brothers that ain’t here”,  and let me tell ya…………it’s some of the BEST iced tea I’ve ever tasted.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on January 23, 2014 in children, fatherhood, parenting, Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Once…twice….three times a Lady (part one)

Sup, Daddies??  Happy belated Fathers’ Day!

I figured I’d take a little time today and write a lil somethin’ somethin’ to encourage you (us)  all  since, well, you know…Father’s Day is over and we probably won’t get any more props ’til next year at about this time.  Anyway, I wanted you to know that the stuff we do all year round IS important and it IS recognized, and it will have lasting effects on our daughters…

I know, I know, I know, sometimes,it may seem like your  daughters aren’t listening or don’t even pay attention when you talk…but, dear reader, I have evidence that at least SOMETIMES, they listen.  Here’s the proof!

Cue the flashback music!…..

“Doodle loodle loo…..Doodle loodle loo…….doodle loodle loo………………..”

(Hey, I don’t have a budget for special effects and a fancy, schmancy soundtrack, so I do what I can.)

Anyway, the year is probably about 2005 or so, and my oldest daughter, Tee was about 12 (13?) years old.  At the time,  they had three rules that I would give them pretty much EVERY time they left  the house.  We always followed the same ritual.  (It was probably more so to help ME remember the rules  than for their benefit….my memory has never been the best, and I needed to make sure I knew what I was punishing them for if the need arose…)   I would ask them what each rule was and have them tell me what it meant.   It went something like this:

Me:  What’s the first rule girls?
Them : Respect ourselves.
Me: what does that mean?
Them:  That we should never do anything that we wouldn’t be proud of.

Me:  What’s the next rule?
Them: Respect our surroundings.
ME: What does that mean to you?
Them: That we should always know what’s going on around us and pay attention to things so we don’t get hurt.

Me: And the third one?
Them: Act like little  ladies.
ME: And what does that mean?
Them:  That we should always carry ourselves like ladies.  We sit like ladies.  We talk like ladies.

So, that was what we went through day in and day out.  Now over the course of time, the ritual got shorter and shorter, and eventually it just got to the point where I would just have them recite the rules to me before they got out of the car.   I hadn’t had an opportunity to see if they were actually FOLLOWING the rules, and they were never actually put to the test.  Heck, I wasn’t even sure that even remembered the rules after the car door slammed……….until….

One day, I took Tee and three of  her neighborhood friends to the mall.  They were all about the same age, except for one, who was a few years younger.   As usual, and without discriminating, I had her AND HER FRIENDS go over the rules with me.  I said them one at a time, having them repeat them to me and asking Tee what each one meant.  She did it without missing a beat. So I let them get out and go into the mall.  I drove off and went home.  One of the other girls mothers was going to pick them up in a couple of hours.

About an hour or so later, the phone rings.  On the other end is one of the parents.  Apparently, the kids had gotten into trouble for trying to steal some jewelry and she was bringing Tee home.

So, of course, when Tee gets there…I was  ready to read her the RIOT ACT with both guns a blazin’.   I didn’t  ask any questions, and we went straight to my room.

“What happened, Tee?”

She looked me right in the eyes and said, “I didn’t do anything wrong, Daddy.”  and she began to cry.  So, me being the concerned, loving, sensitive Daddy that I am, I thought, “Okay…here she goes with the waterworks to throw me off balance, but I ain’t no SUCKER.”  (Yeah…I kinda am…don’t judge me!) She continued  to tell me what happened.  We didn’t get to talk long before there was another knock at the door.   When I answered, I saw the neighbor girl (the young one) and her mom.  The daughter,   was standing there ; her eyes all red as if she’d rubbed them with sandpaper and flushed them with bleach.  The mother asked me if she could talk to Tee for a minute.

I called Tee to the door, and she came and stood beside me in the doorway.  The mother then said, “Mr. McDuffie, I want to tell you that your daughter didn’t do anything wrong so don’t be mad at her.   Our daughters weren’t stealing from the store.  The other two girls were the ones stealing….Our girls were at another store .  Security just assumed that because they were in the mall together, that they were in it together.  (There’s a LOT more to this story that I’m saving for next time.) Then she looked down at Tee and said, “Thank you for keeping ___________out of trouble.”

The next voice we heard was that of the neighbor girl.  What she said hit me like a truck and I’ll NEVER forget the little life lesson that I got from it.  With that tiny, scared, still borderline crying voice she said simply…

“……you told them to act like ladies…You TOLD them…..and they didn’t do it.  They wouldn’t listen……”

Mind….blown.

This little girl, who had only heard the rules  that I drilled into my daughters ONCE, had taken it to heart.  She remembered it!  Granted, it was only two of four that heeded it…but that was better than ONE of four, right?

Now, the message behind all of this is larger than this post, and it’s larger than just me, my daughters and their friends.  In essence, it ain’t about me and mine, it’s about  about YOU and YOURS.    If my words could mean that much to her; a little girl that I hardly knew past her first name, apartment number and mother’s name, think how much weight YOUR words carry with all of the potential “little ladies” in your life.  God has placed and continues to place them in your path all the time.  You have the ability to help guide these little ladies and TRUST me….they listen to you more than you think.

Funny thing is….out of everything that happened that day, the biggest disappointment that BOTH girls seemed to have  was that they thought they had let ME down.  It wasn’t a trip to the mall suddenly cut short.    It wasn’t being questioned by mall security.  It wasn’t  that their “friends” were now mad at them.  (I’ll explain that in part two), but what was most important to them was what I thought of them.  Heavy stuff, huh?

I say ALL of the above to simply say  this:   Your words carry WEIGHT, gents…don’t undervalue yourself.

So until, next Father’s Day, stay encouraged.

I’ll share part two with ya next time.

Thanks for reading.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

(G)race Matters

Photo 22Tee on the Left                                   Kee on the right
in the middle are their God sisters and brothers.

(Okay…..I know the girls are going to KILL me for posting this picture…but oh well….When I’m old, I’ll make sure to always check the brakes on my wheelchair whenever they push me near staircases, so I’ll be cool.)

So I was just thinking about race the other day.  You wanna know what I discovered?  Race is a pretty  interesting.  It can make people love  someone or hate someone with equal vigor based simply  on how they look.   In short, it can make the otherwise rational people irrational.  

 Now, that’s not saying that race isn’t important, because it is.  In fact, I hate it when someone says, “I don’t see color……because I certainly do.  Yup….Here’s a newsflash for ya….If you’re White…I KNOW you’re White..If you’re Asian, I KNOW you’re Asian.  If you’re Indian…I KNOW you’re Indian… I just choose NOT to make it a factor in how I treat you.  More important than the color of your skin, is the color of your character. Now if your CHARACTER sucked…THAT is when we’d have issues. So, in a nutshell, it’s okay to see differences, the problems creep up when you start to see those differences as making someone inferior to yourself.  So, with that in mind,  I  tried to surround  my daughters  with the best people possible; Black, White, Red, Brown, Blue…it didn’t really matter.  

So, I chose to teach my daughters about their heritage, and the uniqueness of the African American journey…but I always took great pains to make sure I tempered the message with ones of tolerance, and understanding and equality…    I think that that’s one of the most important things that we can do as a Daddy.

 
 

Tags: , , , , , ,

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

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: