family

Daddy, I Don’t Want To Hold Your Hand…


Well, it took only 4-years for this moment to arrive and I was not prepared for it, but walking my daughter to school she saw a teacher and a couple of her friends and she let go of my hand.

“Take my hand.” I said.

“I don’t want to hold your hand, daddy” was her reply.

“Oh.  Is it because your friends might see?”

“I just don’t”, she said.

I’m not going to force her to do anything she does not want to do.  She’s getting to be a big girl, so I walked beside her to the school doors, squatted down beside her, gave her a big hug and said, “I love you.”

 

Hmmmm…

 

Not ready for that moment, I have to say.

I remember when my oldest boy did that to me the first time.  I protested, and said, “Fine, just give me a hug.”

In front of his friends he refused to, so in a loud voice and a smile on my face – looking at his friends – I said, “Bye sweetheart.  I love you!” and I have him the biggest kiss possible.

We all laughed.

 

Walking home from school, my 2 youngest ran ahead, and I told this story to my oldest.

He said to me; “I’ll hold your hand, daddy”.

… and that was how we walked home.

 

 

Parenting Frustration 101: Paralysis by Analysis


Being a father of three children is a lot of work.

Work that I love to do more than anything else in the world, but with this work comes the real hard work or the hidden work that gets little recognition, is not discussed at birthday parties between dads, nor does this work get or deserve high-fives among the dads at swim class.

The work I’m referring to is being consistent.

As parents we want our kids to be safe, and felt loved and supported and all that stuff, but if we don’t teach our children the right way to treat others and if we don’t set them up to be able to take care of their own affairs, then what are we doing for our kids besides providing food, shelter and love?

As the “helicopter generation” hovering over our children to keep them free from harm and protect them from a wanton stare from little Suzie or a mean word from little Billy, we do our kids no favours at all stuck to their sides.  We tell them to say please and thank you, and we correct them on everything they do that does not meet our approval but do they remember what we tell them?  If they did, why would we have to do it over and over again, so it seems, or why does someone in their class calling them silly crush them, but us telling them they behave poorly does not?

It’s because they hear our voices and they tune out.  No one wants to be corrected constantly, nor do they want to feel unloved, or disliked, so if our kids are in an environment where they feel any of these things, then we have to step up and act.  Not talk the talk, but walk the walk.

In The Urban Daddy household, we teach our children to stand up for themselves – without violence and without having to tell the teacher – to make sure that they are able to handle a situation now, in later grades, in business and in life. They don’t have to be mean, or demanding – they should try to be nice and use please and thank you, but they certainly do not have to take someone else’s bullshit or be picked on for no reason at all.  I believe we call this bullying.

Our kids have to be organized, and be part of a routine at school and at home.  Organization helps out our family unit and helps their teachers do what they need to do without my kids being a distraction or causing interruptions. Sometimes this is not possible as we are learning with 2 boys, but it is what is expected by us and taught to the kids.  If they are able to do this, they are expected to.  If they are unable to, then they will be taught it.  If they are still unable, they will be helped and hugged.  Never blamed.  Never made to feel bad.

But back to consistency…

Without consistency at home (and I struggle the most with this – always have) the kids get mixed messages and it throws them off.  When our morning routine involves a good morning, the opening of the shutters to let in the light, getting a glass of water to drink, a piece of fruit to eat, and then helping make breakfast and lunches, it messes up the children when the routine is fixed some days but not every day?

Even before the kids come down for breakfast they must get dressed, make their beds and on Monday’s and Friday’s made sure their bedroom floors are empty from toys they do not want to have stored in the vacuum cleaner.  So if they come down one day not dressed, they must be sent back upstairs to be dressed, so they understand the importance of following our routine.  Our consistency.

To be consistent is not something that can be accomplished in one day.  It’s a long-term challenge.

It’s also a long-term challenge when you work hard at home to develop a routine, have the kids buy-in, then be consistent with that routine, but when the kids go to school, or to extra-curricular programs the same does not hold true?  With different teachers, or teachers who do not understand the importance of organization and consistency, and that by putting in that effort in each and every kid, the benefit pays off ten-fold in the near future and for the rest of their lives.

Each and every year I sit down with my kids teachers to let them know what works for my child and what doesn’t. What should be brought to my attention and what should be handled by the child themselves. I do this so that the teachers know that we are on their side, we support them, and that while we check in often, it’s not out of concern for the children, but rather to ensure that they are learning, contributing and being good members of their classroom.

Imagine the surprise of finding out that one of these external providers of education are failing your child, and doing so in a big way.

Imagine the feeling of emptiness knowing that all that support and information your poured into the teachers and all the feedback you received was not worth the air it was breathed into.

I’ve been nice, and I’ve been kind and I will not give them the satisfaction of removing him from this situation and going out of my way to find him a new program to attend.  I’m going to fix this. We’re going to fix this, and at the end of the day, my kids are going to get the consistency, organization and respect they deserve and someone else is getting my hard-earned money.

The problem is that until all the pieces have fallen into place – whether we stay or whether we go – I feel like I’m in a state of paralysis by analysis.

National Caramel Day. Yum! Celebrate with Theo + Jacobsen.


Did you know that Saturday April 5th is National Caramel Day?

Neither did I, until I received an email regarding – what else – Caramel, from the fine folks at Theo + Jacobsen Salt Co.

Theo Chocolate has salty, sweet and full-bodied caramel treats to snack on and they ship throughout the US and their treats are available here in Canada at fine retailers such as Whole Foods.

As the first Organic, IMO Fair Trade Fair for Life and NON-GMO certified bean-to-bar chocolate maker in North America, Theo Chocolate make great chocolate and make our world a better place.

Based in Seattle, with a whole lot of social responsibility, these chocolates are delicious and responsible and I know that because I’ve eaten them before (nothing has been provided to me in compensation for writing this post) and I am just learning of the different way they make their chocolates – not at the expense of anyone else.

In their words; “From the cacao farmer in the Congo, to the truck driver in Seattle, to the chocolate lover in Philadelphia—there is a thread that runs through us all. Theo believes in celebrating those connections, in strengthening them and in finding inspiration within them—inspiration to change the world. We know that every action has a result. That the choices we make here in Seattle, Washington touch lives across the planet in real and lasting ways. That knowledge, and that responsibility, is what drives us to do things differently, to help make the world a better place. We think about every choice we make, every action we take and how it will impact our interconnected world.”

Next time I am in Seattle, I am taking The Urban Daddy family on a Factory Tour!

In the meantime, to celebrate National Caramel Day, here are some treats to order / run out and buy;

· Theo + Jacobsen Salt Co. Sea Salt 4 Piece Caramel Collection

o This truly unique combination of buttery Theo Caramel, rich Chocolate, and crisp Jacobsen Salt Co. sea salts – harvested from the Oregon Coast – lets you wet your feet with four revitalizing fillings: Citrus, Verjus, Lemongrass Curry, Mesquite. ($12)

· Café Vita Caramel Collection

o Café Vita Coffee + Theo Dark and Milk Chocolate + Luscious Carmel = Happiness. Enough said. ($8.80)

· Artisan Sampler Caramel Collection

o Still not taking any sides? This SOFI Gold Winning sampler contains four of our most popular Caramel-infused flavors: Ghost Chili, Grey Salted Vanilla, The Café Vita Caramel and Pink Salted Caramel. ($8.80)

In addition, at the dinner table it[‘s time to have this conversation with the children: Is it Car-mel or Car-a-mel?

I say Car-a-mel. What do you say?

http://www.theochocolate.com Find them also on Facebook and on Twitter.

Thursday Thirteen: The Urban Daddy Ponders His Usefulness


The absolute best trait a person with ADD-like symptoms possesses is the ability to think about 45 different things over the course of one full minute.

Since today is Thursday, I’d like to put together 13 items that have crossed my mind in the past 13 minutes – many of course coming as a result of something one of my children has said to me, about me, recently when he questioned my (in)ability to help his with his homework.

  1. On the weekend my son needed help with a project for his math enrichment class. I wanted him to at least try it before asking for help, but I knew that he was hungry and when he’s hungry he is helluva cranky. Not realizing that his crankiness was meant for his mother whom he wanted to work with, my offer of help generated this reply from him; “I DON’T want your help! You’re useless!!”

This lead to #12.

  1. Being called “useless” by a 7-year-old child with low blood sugar is hilarious. I didn’t want to help him anyways! It’s the weekend and I have other things to do… Even things for (gasp) me!

Then I started thinking… See #11.

  1. Then as I set out looking to help one of my other children with schoolwork, I started to think about what my son called me when I came to the conclusion he’s off base. I’m 43-years-old. I’m married. I’m a great dad. I have 3 children, and have 3-years of accounting qualifications under my belt, plus a MBA which I earned while that child was a baby sleeping only 2-3 hours at a time for almost the first year of his life! I am far from useless.

Or…

  1. They say (and I don’t know who “they” are or if this even counts as a fact) that if you can question whether you are “crazy” then you must not be “crazy”. Granted terminology is terrible, but what if I’ve been telling myself that I am useful all these years but in the eyes of my kids, I’m already a dinosaur incapable of helping out wit Grade 2 math… Maybe I do belong in the museum of life.

  2. Or… If I was subconsciously pulling a fast one on my kids to get out of having to help them with their math. I mean when I was growing up and my family decided that I needed to help make lunches before bed, I sabotaged their lunches and was never asked to help out again.

  3. But after a hug from mummy and a handful of grapes, I could hear the cries for “DADDY!!!” from the child who actually needed my help… I think.

  4. I made him apologize. I didn’t need it, but I wanted him to get used to saying sorry. It’s not easy for everyone to say but it’s powerful and liberating to clear your conscience.

  5. Even at 7-years-old, children do not like to be forced to apologize, yet when they know they need help and you are their only option, you get the short, unemotional, “sorry”.

  6. Then we got down to business, and after 2-hours or being creative and cutting, solving, gluing and decorating this project, the light-bulb went on in both of our heads.

  7. It had become my project and it had to be good. Really good.

  8. Daddy was doing his project and it was looking good… Really good.

  9. I stepped back and said to him, “Hey man! It’s your project, not mine. We’re going to do whatever you want to do. Please don’t let me take over or tell you what to put where I think it goes. It’s all yours (and in the back of my mind, while he’s staring at this piece of art, I know he’s thinking it’s awesome and I’m thinking – still think I’m useless?)

  10. He takes over. He colours, aligns, decorates, fixes, alters, and adjusts the project and now it’s ALL his. It’s amazing,

He turns to me with his eyes wide as saucers and says; “I love you Daddy!”

Totally worth it!

But I Didn’t Get The Email…


“I didn’t get that email.”
“I never saw that email.”
“It must have gone to my spam folder.”

How often have you used any of those comments when you need to get out of a jam? We all know it’s a bullshit response, but we use it, it gets accepted, then you had better make sure that you find that email (usually sitting unread in your inbox) and respond to it.

But what if you really didn’t get the email?

Does anyone really believe you any ways?

This morning in The Urban Daddy household, my wife and I decided to run through our days after school drop-off (we have a lot going on, clearly) and she mentioned to me that she would be missing the kids swimming tonight.

Errr, I take the kids swimming… Me, and me only.

“Why?” I sheepishly asked, figuring that I clearly forgot some details about tonight.

“It’s parent-viewing tonight…”

“Oh” I replied, with zero recollection of this conversation.

“Didn’t you get the email?” was her reply.

Well, I did not get the email. I am not on the swim school’s email list. I have never been on that list, although I have been included many times and I have asked to be included even more times.

I’m not part of that club…

So we laughed, and moved on…

How about next week, when your son writes his math test through Spirit of Math.

“Huh?” was my response.

“Geez… Don’t you read the emails from Spirit of Math!?!”

“Nope… Not on that list either” was my reply.

I know I now have to get myself included on these lists, but really, after 5-years of swimming and 3-years of math enrichment, have I missed anything?

But I’ll get on the list anyways.