Just a little

I was at the playground tonight with Toby. I really watched him tonight. Not sure why tonight was any different. Maybe it was dark French roast coffee I had. Gave me an extra caffeine boost. I was amazed by how much he had grown up. He was climbing on things that really weren’t meant to be climbed on but he managed them. He was playing with a little girl and did great. He took turns and shared his toys. His imagination is getting better. We played “store”. I would walk up to this play area and ask for food or clothes and he would give me a hand full of mulch. It was the little things that he did that made things different, saying “thank you” at appropriate times. Or informing me he was out of milkshake and all he had was apple juice. It was pretty sweet to see that he had grown up just a little.

Recently I was at a conference. At the conference were wide variety of professionals from my field. When you go to these conference you tend to run into the same people and you get to know people. I ran into a former boss. I worked with years ago, in fact it was the first job I got out of college. My buddy Mike and I worked there together. There was a friend that we made while we worked there named Maria. We all started around the same time. We had a blast! We worked at a residential home for delinquent youth. Young and just out of college the three of us made our mistakes and learned lessons.

One mistake that comes to mind is when I had to take some kids shopping for something. I didn’t take any change and we had to take a toll road home. In a panic because it was getting late, I ran the toll booth. A week or so later my boss calls me into the office. I’m pretty sure she had pictures of me running the toll booth. I confessed immediately! She gave me a look and told me not to do it again. Lesson learned… Get an EZ Pass.

Sitting there with my former boss and talking about where Mike, Maria and I are now was really cool. Maria is now the supervisor of the residential home we worked at, Mike is a drug and alcohol counselor at a prison and gets to do trainings called Hostage Crisis Training and I’m worrying about making sure my facility is in compliance with letters like PREA, BHSL, and DPW.

I don’t know about you but I often times I think “man when I grow up…” Or “when I get older…” I think that some how I need to get older than what I am to fix things. That I’m still back being 22yrs old and that I have a ton of growing up to do. This conference made me pause and realize that I’ve actually grown up. Just like tonight when I stopped and really studied Toby I noticed it was the little things that made a difference. It was pretty sweet for me to realize that in fact, I had grown up just a little.

Dear Toby, (9/23/13)

Dear Toby, (9/23/13)

I just put you to bed once again. When I told you I would lay down with you for a minute you said “great!” Honestly, that’s the first time I’ve heard you use that word on your own. It’s great to watch you grow up. Seems like every day you learn a new word or you fit a word into the right contexts.

Tonight you were a little sad. When I asked you what was wrong you said you were afraid of zombies. Parents always wonder what their kid might be stressed about or worried about and it’s things like zombies and where your latest toy is. It seems trivial to us but it’s so important to you.

I told you I would take care of you and keep you safe from the zombies. Honestly, that seems like the only thing I can keep you safe from. This world is unpredictable. It’s harsh and it can be cruel. You’re only three right now. I can protect you from zombies and monsters that aren’t real. It’s the what’s real that scares me. Things I won’t always be able to protect you from. The best that I can do is shield you from some of this realities and let you just worry about zombies and monsters for a little while longer.

Love,
Friend Dad

Gut shot

It’s late. Ok, not that late. It feels like it’s late. Looking around, you don’t see any windows. That’s the point right? They don’t want you to realize how much time has passed. They are banking, literally banking on you losing track of time. That’s one of the reasons they don’t allow cell phones at the table. Let’s be honest, everyone uses their phones to see what time it is, even if they are wearing a watch. Yep, I’m at a casino. (Ok not really, but I’ve been there)

I haven’t gone that many times. I’ve gone about 4 times. By my estimation I’m up about $300 on the house. I’ve lost some money but I’ve also had some decent wins. Here’s the key, and it sounds cliche as hell, but you need to know when to walk away. Also, check your emotions at the door. The casino is banking, and again literally banking, on your emotions. They want you to get emotionally invested because if you emotionally invested then you will be financially invested. That’s where they win. That’s where you lose.

Call me unemotional, call me an ass, call me heartless but I think we let our emotions get the best of us too often. We get invested. We get in deep. Too deep. Then when it’s time to walk away, time to cut your losses, whatever saying you want to use, we can’t. We just can’t do it. So what happens? We invest more. We think if we just push harder then our “luck” will change. That the more we pour in, the more we’ll get out. Again, that’s how the house wins and you lose.

I’m not saying emotions are bad. They are natural so they can’t be that bad, but too often we rely on our emotions and ignore our minds. We depend on a “gut” feeling and ignore the facts. Now, does it sometimes work out? Yeah! We as the gamblers, we are counting on that. We are hoping that one time we beat the odds and win big. Let me ask you though… When was the last time you won big? You won big on a gut shot? I’m not talking about you guessing a jeopardy question right or winning a scratch off at a gas station, I’m talking about winning huge, like lottery huge. The kinda huge that just simply changed your life around and put you on another level. Chances are, you haven’t. Chances are if you’ve been successful at all, you have worked your butt off. You have made smart choices. You didn’t just react on a gut decision and you walked away from something more often than take a risk.

We gamble on love way to much. We rely on out feelings and emotions to carry us through. We take a gut shot and then get shot in the gut. What if we stopped? What if we used our brains more than we used our gut? What if we approached love like we do our careers. Many of you went to college for at least four years before you started working in your field and yet we’ll jump into a relationship at the drop of a hat. I’m not saying there isn’t room for feelings and emotions, those are the signals that something could be there. The potential. But just like every black jack hand, there is always a potential. Always a chance. But how often do you win at black jack? My guess is that black jack odds are better than finding true love.

Maybe it’s my cynical mind and view but I think if we gambled less on love and maybe approached it more like our careers we wouldn’t lose to the house as much. Or maybe I’m just rambling senselessly and I should just watch World War Z.

Mind readers

As many of you know I’m a huge sports junky. I love watching the NFL, NBA, college football, Duke basketball, MMA, I’m even planning on watching the huge boxing match tonight with Mayweather. I was watching the Patriots vs Jets game. The game was ugly. When I think of ugly, I think of the old joke you use to say to each other in grade school. “You so ugly your mom use to have to tie a steak around your neck to get the dog to play with you!” Good times. The game was ugly because the Jets suck. As in they could be historically bad. The Patriots and Tom Brady were throwing to WR’s that looked like they just joined the team during the national anthem. It was bad!

So Tom Brady was throwing to this rookie who dropped catch after catch after catch. This kid looked like he dipped his hands in some grease before the game. Brady look pissed. He was yelling, screaming and probably tossed a few four letter words in there. I thought to myself during one of the drops “Man this guy doesn’t even care! Look at him drop another pass!”

Flashback to Michael Jordan getting cut from his 10th grade basketball team. At this time Michael Jordan isn’t MJ or his Airness but instead just another kid who wants to try and make his high school basketball team. In many respects you can Michael a failure after getting cut, but can you say he didn’t care enough? Not after what he did when he grew up, becoming the greatest of all time.

So this rookie WR drops another ball. He is failing. He at this point in his career is pretty much a failure. But does he really not care? I doubt it. I bet that playing in that game, playing with the Patriots, just trying to catch balls from Brady was the most important thing to him. I think too often we equate failure as not caring. We think that just because someone fails they obviously didn’t care enough. That if they want to be successful they should “care” more. That if a relationship falls apart, that someone didn’t care enough. If someone constantly messes up, they simply don’t give a crap. We need to be careful thinking we are mind readers. We tell a person or act like a person doesn’t care long enough, eventually they won’t care. They won’t care because you stopped caring. Failure is not indicative of a person’s level of caring.

She poops her pants…

So initially I was gonna post something about my trip to Nashville but something happened when I went to go pick up Toby from daycare. First let me preface this post by saying I am by no means a perfect parent. I’ve had my moments of freaking out on Toby for basically no reason. Long days, little sleep, he’s sick, you’re sick. We have all been there. At the same time no matter how bad things get, there are certain lines you simply don’t cross.

I walked in and I was looking for the director of the daycare. I wanted to let her know when Toby was going to be in daycare next week. Because of this, I didn’t go directly to the class Toby was in, instead I was looking in other rooms. I heard this woman’s voice coming from the hall. What I heard upset me. Upset me because it just sounded wrong.

The woman’s scolding her kid for pooping his pants. Not saying things like “hey you have to tell someone when you need to go to the bathroom” or “it’s ok, accidents happen”. No she was saying “you pooped your pants because you are a bad boy!” WHAT?? Really?? The kid pooped himself because he’s bad?? The worst part is she kept saying it! Over and over. “You pooped yourself because you’re bad!” Maybe it was because he was four years old and probably was more worried about playing than going to the potty. Maybe it was an accident, maybe he shartted!

Seriously, though this was one of the more ridiculous things I’ve heard a parent say to a kid. You pooped your pants because you’re a bad boy. What the heck is this lady going to say if he beats someone up? Or gets caught drunk driving and almost kills someone? Is she going to call him a bad boy then? We as parents need to recognize that there are some things that our kids are going to do that maybe wrong but it doesn’t make them bad.

This weekend I drove from Nashville back home. It was a 12 hour drive when you include all the breaks we took. Did Toby cry and fuss? Of course. Did he get angry and demand things? Yeah. What else should I expect? Was he bad? No! He was being a 3yr old that was trapped in a car for 10hrs. What he was doing was natural. The little boy that I saw getting yelled at for pooping his pants was probably no more than 4. The kid is going to have an accident, it doesn’t make him bad. Personally, I hope when this lady is old and her kid has to take care of her and she poops her pants, he scolds her and calls her bad.

… found on a train.

So Friday I turn 32. Well… At least that’s what I’m told. That’s what my mom was told. See the thing is, I could be older or younger. Right about now some of you are really confused or excited. The excited ones are saying “Wait, you have an option??!!” The confused ones are asking “huh??”

I’ll explain. I don’t know how much I’ve covered this but I was found on a train when I was a baby in Pusan, South Korea. See when you get found on a train, typically you don’t have a ton of paperwork with you. It’s the ultimate in light packing. Well, the story goes that in fact I did have a piece of paper with a day and month. Not sure how accurate this is. As it goes, I’m told that it had my birthday on it and the year wasn’t added.

Some really smart people figured out that you can basically guess a person’s age through looking at the development of their teeth. So through this process I was given a really good guesstimation of my age, plus or minus a year. The difficult part was how malnourished I was and chanced are that’s why there could be such a discrepancy about my age. I’m told that when I was 3yrs old I was the size of an 18month old baby. That’s half the “normal” size. I can see where this may complicate matters as far as narrowing down an age. Who knows! Maybe I was an 18month old at the time.

So, I say all of that to say that whatever age I am, we’ll say 31, has been tough, interesting, good, sad, joyful, lonely, and amazing. I expect nothing less from being 32. While I might not know my exact age, I do know I’m getting older. That I lived another year of life. That in many aspects I’ve grown as a person. At the same time, I know I’ve got a long way to go. That I have a lot to learn. Hopefully being 32 will teach me something. Honestly, I can’t complain. When I think about, really pause to think about, things are really good for starting life out by being found on a train.