Fathers’ eyes

The last few days I unexpectedly found some really good blog posts written by other fathers about their experiences as fathers. I am pleased to present you with these three.

  • The Abridged MBTTTR Story, posted on Must Be This Tall to Ride. I didn’t even know Matt was featured on WordPress’s own blog when I found his blog this morning. Matt has written some incredibly good posts. I recommend this one as a jumping off point to a lot of them.
     
    As every father knows, being a father is sometimes one of the hardest jobs you can ever have. I am married and I say that. As hard as it is sometimes, it can’t be anywhere near as hard for me as it is for Matt. The Matt whose wife left him Matt. Matt’s stories encourage me and inspire me. If Matt can do it, I can do it.
  • On being a dad – the value of consistency, posted on Holding together the jello. Mark is another father going it alone. This post serves as a great personal reminder to remember to rein it in when I’m cranky, frustrated, or otherwise less than pleasant. It is easy for me to spot when other fathers have lost it. It is not always so easy for me spot when I am headed in the same direction. Thanks for the reminder, Mark!
  • “As Long as it’s Healthy.” Why I Hate This Saying. Posted on Finding Fatherhood. Normally I wait until a blog racked up some nebulously larger number than two posts over few months before recommending others take a look. But expectant father Jon brought me back to when my son was mere weeks old in the womb.
     
    At the time my wife was classified AMA. Short for Advanced Maternal Age. We were told AMA also means an increased risk of Down’s syndrome. The doctor offered a test for that. My wife and I discussed it. We only needed a few minutes. We didn’t phrase it nearly as well as Jon did in his post when we declined the test, as the result would not change our minds on keeping our baby.

Are there any others you would recommend?

I'm a Zero to Hero Blogger! I wrote this for my Zero to Hero blogging challenge day twenty-three assignment.

Zero to hero: eleven

After yesterday’s assignment I am really glad for this one. Without further ado, here we go with

Today’s assignment: hello, neighbor

Follow along as I say hello and a little bit more to some fellow bloggers on their blogs. It may take a little while for my comments to be approved and visible on each. And if you like the post, why not leave a comment of your own?

  • Zero to Hero Challenge Progress on Heart of a Southern Woman. I have been meaning to leave a comment on Helen’s post since the day I found it. Finding it again, to my horror and disgrace, I find I forgot to follow her blog the first time around. Sorry, Helen! Helen packed six days’ worth of challenge assignments into her post, and I am looking forward to her next one.
  • About Me on Helps to Write. Josh’s latest post announcing New Sight Design is what pulled me in, given my own desire to change the look of my own blog. Once there I remembered why I followed his blog in the first place: his struggles with Christianity. His about page says he has fallen away, but I see he just started seminary. So I had to ask Josh if it was time to update his about page.
  • My Wildest Dreams on Let Go of the Brakes. Rick wrote an awesome post about childhood dreams that fade away to an even better dream. You might think his even better dream is making two wheels go fast under his power, but that’s not it. I read through a number of his posts and saw myself in some of them. Rick plans to write at least one post a week in 2014, and I am looking forward to them all.

I could go blog hunting for hours more, but it is time for me to come back up for air. Still, are there any other blogs you recommend I explore on my next hunt?

I'm a Zero to Hero Blogger!You have just read my eleventh post for the Zero to Hero blogging challenge. Join me in using the challenge to liven up our own little corners of the web, blogosphere, or whatever the kids are calling it these days. Don’t worry if you are behind, you can go at your own pace. I seem to be on the day-and-a-half-behind schedule.

Zero to hero: nine

Today seems to be perpetually behind day. Behind a day this morning, did day eight, then found myself still behind a day when the day ten assignment went live. But it is great to see we are already one third of the way through the Zero to Hero blogging challenge. Onward!

Today’s assignment: find, follow five

I haven’t paid too much attention to the contents of my WordPress Reader since the last time I was supposed to find new topics and blogs (or bloggers). This is a good reminder to take a look on a regular basis. As I found out later reading through the forum posts for the assignment, that is exactly the reason for this repeated exercise.

This time around, I am going to take a look at what turns up in some of the topics/tags I am following.

Topic: Cycling

  • Pedaling Prose and High Yield Life. Both of these are written by AJ, who is “a proud husband and father, an avid cyclist and a prospective writer.” I found the latter blog through a link on the first, and I am glad I clicked that link. I am looking forward to AJ’s continued observations from his bike. Incidentally, AJ made it plainly obvious I was not yet following the next topic, which is…

Topic: Fatherhood

  • Holding together the jello. Mark writes about the struggles and joys of being a single father. While blessed to not be a single father myself, my sister recently became a single mother for a reason much like Mark’s, so my imagining how hard life is as a single parent takes a little less imagination. I find inspiration in both their stories.
  • Fatherhood, Food, Faith. This one is a new blog written by the father of a brand new baby. Besides fatherhood, a couple comments in his first post caught my eye: (1) that they attend a church, but consider their real faith community to be three families who meet at each others’ houses, and (2) that their faith looks different than their parents’. I don’t know if my faith on the outside looks all that different from that of my parents or in-laws, but inside my head mine feels nowhere near the same as theirs.
  • Better Man / Better Family. Joseph Milestone writes about his ongoing work to improve himself, and by extension his family. I could use a little self-improvement myself.

I am one short of five. Egads! The clock says it is well past my bedtime. I have been reading blogs while half asleep for about least three hours now.

Hey, a quick proofreading shows I have five after all. It really is time to hit the lights already!

I'm a Zero to Hero Blogger!You have just read my day nine post for the Zero to Hero blogging challenge. Join me in using the challenge to liven up our own little corners of the web, blogosphere, or whatever the kids are calling it these days. You’ll be glad you did.

2014 in preview

Gasp! Did I just use a multi-word title for a non-reblogged post?

I thought I would start the year with a list of resolutions. But I’m not sure “resolutions” is the right word. The word almost connotes goals that are started but quickly discarded. Instead, this is my list of possible accomplishments for the year. I expect the list to change some over the next 365 days.

  1. Make an initial list of accomplishments to achieve for the year There, that wasn’t so hard!
  2. Read the Bible deliberately and consistently, and learn more of what it really says
  3. Get back in the saddle again, and ride my bike farther and faster than I ever have. Getting fitter than I have ever been would be an awesome side-effect
  4. Be a better husband and dad
  5. Reconnect with relatives I have ignored over the years, and connect with those I have never met
  6. Learn Czech and Hebrew, and improve my Norwegian
  7. Extra credit: build a simple conlang that incorporates at least one feature from each of those languages
  8. Clean off the keyboard and learn how to play a few songs with skill
  9. Run a half-marathon. There’s that getting fitter than ever thing again
  10. Tend to this blog more often
  11. Declutter

Alrighty then, let’s see where this goes.

Plan

We admit it…

Sometimes our kids make us proud. Sometimes we are left scratching our heads wondering how they manage to think their infuriating behavior is anywhere remotely acceptable. Today, on Mother’s Day, of all days, we had infuriating behavior in spades.

Now we know being a parent is no easy task. But after talking with teachers and our parents, siblings, and friends we have come to the conclusion our children rate a little higher than average on the difficulty score.

Getting the guide

Positive Parenting with a Plan, by Matthew A. Johnson, Psy.D.

Let me cut to the chase: we decided to give Positive Parenting with a Plan, by Matthew Johnson a try.

Figuring out which edition is the current one was not the easiest task. If you like, you can take advantage of the fruits of my labor:

My wife bought the paperback, and I bought the Kindle version. My long commute makes for long work days, and would have made it hard for both of us to finish reading a single copy quickly. Plus, this allowed us to compare notes as we progressed through the book.

Rather than bore you with gobs of detail about the book here, I’ll let you explore the book’s website and reviews available on the bookseller sites. Or if you prefer, you can come along for the ride on my blog, where I will explain more in future posts.

Starting the plan

We read the book and prepared most of our kit (tokens, list of rules, etc.) accordingly. Though not completely prepared, the kids’ behavior today demanded we start today. They were not too pleased about all the new rules. They were pleased to hear my wife and I have to follow the rules as well or incur the same consequences (one or more Good Habits cards–a set of punishments and non-punishments meant to encourage better behavioral habits). Following the rules earns reward tokens that can later be exchanged for one of the rewards from a list both kids helped make.

As I said before, I’ll explain more about the book and how we are doing with the plan as we make our way on this adventure. Wish us luck!

Mean

This last weekend I did something I don’t recall ever doing before: openly chastising another person’s child in front of the parent.

Let me start with the cast of characters, names changed to protect the innocent and guilty alike.

  • Margaret, my young teen-age niece
  • Velma, mother of Margaret
  • Daphne, sister of Velma and my wife
  • My Wife, sister of Velma and Daphne
  • Yours Truly, husband of My Wife
  • Other Children, offspring of Velma, Daphne, and My Wife and Yours Truly

And now for the story, details changed to protect the innocent and guilty alike, and also because memory isn’t necessarily the most reliable in the heat of the moment…

Daphne asks her child about going to a movie. Not just any movie, but the hot movie of the week, and the late show at that. And in full hearing of Margaret’s ears. Margaret asks Daphne if she can tag along. Daphne says it is fine with her, provided Margaret’s mother, Velma, gives her OK.

Velma thinks a moment, and gives a thumbs down. It will be quite late before Margaret will get home, and there is school tomorrow. Margaret is not happy with that answer, and she proceeds with a couple rounds of begging and pleading. Getting nowhere, she tells her mother she is mean, and storms off.

Margaret waits awhile, then goes back to her mother to plead her case again. Again, the answer is “no,” and again Margaret calls her mother “mean.”

Rinse, and repeat.

It is now about time for my family to gather up our belongings and head home. Thirsty, I head to the kitchen for some water before the trip. In the kitchen I find My Wife, Daphne, Velma, and Margaret. And guess who is pleading her case to tag along for movie night again.

Velma is tired of the pleading. Daphne doesn’t really say anything. My Wife asks if Velma has heard about the parenting plan we are about to try in our family. (More on that in a later post.) Velma doesn’t want to hear about another book. “I have tried them all, and I am ready to ship off them off!”

Margaret asks about the movie one more time. Velma is clearly mad, and says “no” one more time. As I make my way out of the kitchen I hear, “You’re mean!” again.

Normally, if my child is not involved I try to bite my tongue. But this time my tongue would not be restrained, and before I could stop myself I let Margaret verbally have it.

“All of us parents are sick and tired of you kids pulling the ‘you’re mean’ card. We have had it.”

I don’t think I have ever seen her eyes get that big. My voice grew louder, but to me still seemed under more control than that of a raving madman.

“‘No’ means ‘no,’ period. If you don’t like it that is just too bad. How many times do you need to be told that you are not going to the movie tonight? Your mom is mean because she said ‘no’ to a movie? Are you kidding me? There is no way in hell any of us would have gotten away with talking to our parents the way you all talk to us, and we are done with it!”

The swearing cued My Wife to gently touch my arm in effort to calm me down. It probably worked, because pent up frustration was starting to come out under less control, and more like a raving madman. And this wasn’t even my kid. I left the kitchen with a few more ranting phrases.

And then silence. In the entire house.

On the way home, My Wife said Margaret ran out the back door in tears, and that Velma didn’t seem to mind. And both Velma and My Wife are miffed at Daphne, for once again bringing up something like a movie in front of children other than her own, putting her siblings in the position of potential bad guy yet again.

Even if Velma didn’t mind, the incident bothers me. It doesn’t strike me as one of my proudest of parental moments. Sure, Margaret was being a disrespectful brat. But was I too hard on her? Was I out of place? Maybe those are questions best answered by Velma.

Children

I can still hear the words my parents used to say out of sheer frustration with my siblings and me. “When you have kids, I hope they turn out to be just like you.”

My children often do what they know they shouldn’t, and they often don’t do what they know they should. And they behave this way repeatedly, even though they know there will be consequences.

Children are called a gift from God. But I am convinced they are also a lesson from God. “You are just like your kids.”