father

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.

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!

Things I Have Learned as a Parent, a Father, a Husband and a Human Being


I have been doing a lot of soul-searching.  Doesn’t everyone?  And in doing so I have realized there are a lot of things that I have learned this past year, and I never thought about putting together a post until I had a “discussion” with my 9-year-old son after I told him that “I learn something new each and every day.”  He didn’t believe me because at 9-years-old you know as much as a 43-year-old does, right?

But off the top of my head, here are some of the things that I have learned in the not too distant past;

First off, I learned that I am truly blessed.  My family, friends, network… It could be better but it could be much worse.

Do They Know It’s Christmas by Band Aid makes me cry.  It’s the whole story from the song to the Live-Aid concerts…  It chokes me up to think about how the world came together for this cause.

Learning is NEVER a waste of time.

Plenty of people my age are just as confused about life as I am.

I do NOT like the Olympics – what they have become with the politics, greed, and lack of recognition that countries who participate should do so with the understanding that they have to be nice to their citizens outside of the games and that their participants have to be nice to other countries while in the games.  I do, however, love when our Olympians win and that chokes me up.  I’m all Pro Canada when the games are on!

Time isn’t slowing down for any of us.

I don’t like Miley Cyrus, or Justin Beiber at all.

It takes the little effort to be a good friend.

It takes even less effort to be a good person – say “hello” or “good morning” to people, or to smile and not be another reason people have to complain.

‘Health’ goes way beyond working out and eating well.

The real world isn’t that scary.

I’ve had way too many “I should have listened to my wife” moments.

Confidence can be faked – for good sometimes – as we push our children into areas we stayed out of so their futures might be different from ours.

No matter how badly someone needs to change, you cannot force them into it.  They have to be ready.

There is nothing to watch on TV and it gets worse year-by-year.

Be true to yourself.  Not matter what you are giving up to do so.  You’ll be able to sleep at night.

There still are some people in the world who were raised the right way.

Planning, preparing, and cooking dinner for a family AND making sure it tastes good AND is healthy AND all cooks at the same time AND is ready in time for dinner is REALLY hard!  My wife is AWESOME!  I don’t know how she does it, day after day, and night after night.

When something happens in my house – anything broken, items left-out, things damaged – it’s amazing to me that “not me” has done all this damage, and “I don’t know” seems to be there too.  This is right out of the Family Circus comics…

My family has horrible memories when it comes to picking up their laundry from the floor, putting their dishes in the sink, sweeping the floor or helping with lunches, but if they were promised iPad time… that they never forget.

So there!  I did learn new things today, and every day!

The Urban Daddy’s 1000th Blog Post!!


Looks like we have reason to celebrate today as this is our 1000th blog post on The Urban Daddy.

1000th blog post

Coming up on 10 years and with over 150,000 views on this URL (I had a whole bunch more on my previous URL www.urbandaddy.blogger.ca) I want to say thank you to the many people who have made this blog possible through their actions, comments, or for just being who they are.

The main topics I have come to love to talk about here – aside from being a Dad – include politics, coffee, sports, the live-in caregiver program (nannies), government funding of IVF, government in general, stupidity and common sense and a lot of tax.

When I first started writing, 10 views a week was fantastic, but as the hits climbed, so did the pressure to produce content that made sense, that was edited and had no spelling mistakes.   I am far from a journalism major, so one of the reasons for blogging was practice writing sentences which made sense and to work on my spelling.   I knew early on that I could count on my sister to send me an email when there were spelling mistakes or grammatical errors, which she did A LOT, before I realized WordPress hasa kick-ass spell checker.  Thanks Sis.

So as The Urban Daddy began receiving nominations for year-end blogging awards, I came to realize how important Daddy Blogs are in cyber space however I chose to stay out of the limelight, using this blog instead as a forum to capture my parenting successes and failures as well as tracking my children’s progress and achievements.  While I like the concept of fame and fortune, deep down inside, I’ve always been reserved and would much rather others get the spotlight.  I can stand in the back and smile.

I’m the guy who values an assist as much as a goal in play and in work.

Professionally, after 17-years of working for others, I started my own business this past April - something I realized I should have been doing years ago.  I saw, experienced, and was frustrated by, so much in the workforce as I’m sure you have too, and keeping your mouth shut is always easier in theory than in practice.  If I see something wrong, I have to speak up, and I was certain that one day it was going to cost me my job.  It wasn’t until I realized my love and knowledge of taxation, of all things, that it was my true calling and I could help people and earn a living.  Now I get to do that AND spend valuable time with my wife and children.  Something I have come to see as being a very short window, sadly.

Back to the blogging… In 1000 posts I have said some nice things – a lot of nice things – but I have also said some dumb things and for those I have always apologized.  I’m a big fan of karma and if I piss somebody of, then I’m no better than they are.

To that point, I’ve been called a LOT of things, for a lot of interesting people.  I’ve been called stupid for my right-wing political views (always from anonymous posters, mind you) and I’ve been threatened.  I have had my blog hacked, email hacked and Twitter accounts taken over by aliens.  I have received hate mail, had my Facebook page cloned and hate messages sent from it to all my friends… More than once.  It reminded me of working in the government when people would send me hate mail which was written in gold glitter or included with the envelope would be a mysterious white powder.

It’s the price one pays for being open and for having an opinion and making it public.

Yes, I have pulled back a lot of the personal information on myself and my family as a result, and I do not post pictures of them, but I find it reduces my credibility in the parent blogging community to hide behind cute names.  I’m okay with that.

I’ve been on the radio, on TV, asked to start my own cable show and in the newspaper now more times that I could imagine.  My son once told his teacher that at parent-teacher interviews she should call me “The Urban Daddy”.  Others do.

I have also had the pleasure of being confused for urbandaddy.com, a much larger website out of New York which promotes the trendiest events and social items for the have or pretend to have community.  As a result I get my fair share of product pitches from very large corporations – and I’ve been offered to be flown around the world to attend events.  Obviously, I reject them all, and direct them to the right place.  I have no interest in being away from the family for something like that.  If I promote or recommend a product or service it is because I use it, and would use it.

I don’t know on a daily basis what I am going to post or even if I am going to post.

It is because of that, why I appreciate each view, comment, like and re-tweet through this blog, and my Facebook, Twitter, Google + and email more than any of you could possibly imagine.  I follow each and every blogger than stops by and let’s me know they have stopped by.

I hope to again one day find the perfect balance between the person who writes this blog and person who saves peoples lives by solving their tax problems and setting them back on track, but until that time comes, I’m going to have to continue to post when I can, about whatever pops into my mind.

And thank you once again for coming by and for supporting this blog.  If I ever get to 2000 posts, I’ll have a giant party and you’re invited.  :)